JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian man stabbed a young British tourist to death in Jerusalem as she traveled on the light rail close to the Old City, which was packed with Christians celebrating Good Friday and Jews enjoying Passover, police and hospital officials said.
It was the latest bloodshed in a wave of attacks by Palestinians mostly acting on their own against Israeli civilians and security forces that erupted in 2015.
Jerusalem's Hadassah Medical Center said the woman died soon after she was rushed there following the attack, despite efforts to save her.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that as the tram approached City Hall, the Palestinian pulled a knife out of his bag and stabbed the woman in her early 20s multiple times in the upper body.
An off duty policeman, who was riding the tram with his family, pulled the emergency brake and charged at the Palestinian attacker, Samri said.
She said an initial probe shows the 57-year-old attacker is mentally ill.
Local media said a pregnant woman was injured when the light rail came to a sudden stop.
The attack took place near the Old City that was packed with Christians, many of them tourists from around the world, celebrating the Good Friday holiday, as well as Jews celebrating Passover.
President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement that he is "filled with sadness" over the violence and that Israel's "thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim."
He said "this week thousands have come through the ancient gates of Jerusalem, to celebrate the feasts of Passover and Easter throughout the city - while the security forces work to ensure the safety of the dear residents and visitors to the city. And so we will continue to do," he said. "Terror can never overcome us. Terror will never destroy our lives here."
Israel's Shin Bet intelligence service said the Palestinian attacker had recently tried to commit suicide in hospital by swallowing a razor blade and that he was convicted of sexually abusing his daughter in 2011.
"This is not the first time that a Palestinian suffering from personal, mental or moral distress has chosen to commit a terrorist attack in order to escape his problems," it said in a statement.
Apart from Friday's fatality, Palestinians have killed 42 Israelis and two visiting Americans since September 2015, mainly in stabbings, car ramming assaults and shooting attacks.
Israeli forces have killed at least 243 Palestinians during that time, most of them identified as attackers by Israeli authorities.
Israel says the bloodshed is fueled by a Palestinian campaign of incitement, compounded by social media sites glorifying attackers and encouraging violence. Palestinians say it stems from frustration over decades of Israeli rule in territory they claim for a state.