A young British woman was stabbed to death by a Palestinian man in Jerusalem yesterday just three months after she began a Bible studies course in the city.
Hannah Bladon, 20, was killed on a tram near Jerusalem’s Old City by a disturbed Palestinian man who attacked her at random with a kitchen knife, Israeli authorities said. He was arrested at the scene.
Ms Bladon was a religious studies undergraduate at the University of Birmingham who arrived in Jerusalem in January as part of an exchange programme with The Hebrew University. She was reportedly taking courses in Bible studies, archaeology and religion.
Shortly after starting her studies she reassured friends on Facebook that she was safe in Jerusalem.
“I’m OK thanks. Security is really tight on campus so no worries at mo [sic]. Managed to see a lot of sites before starting my classes today so having a great time,” she wrote.
Celia Natzic, a friend of Ms Bladon’s at the university, said she was “truly at a loss for words. Hannah was one of my favourite people at the university”.
On Friday, there was no answer at the family's terraced house in Burton-on-Trent.
It's just sickening really because they were getting her bed ready for her to come back
Neighbour of Ms Bladon's family
One neighbour, who did not want to be named, said Ms Bladon's family had been excited for her return, even "getting her bed ready".
"It's just sickening really because they were getting her bed ready for her to come back," she said. "She had been away for about six months." Another neighbour described the student as a "bright, bubbly girl", adding: "It's awful, just awful."
Israel’s security services named the killer as Jameel Tamimi, a 57-year-old Palestinian who was returning to his home in east Jerusalem from a psychiatric facility in northern Israel. Ms Bladon was standing next to him as the tram passed the walls of the Old City at around 1pm on Friday, filled with people celebrating Easter and Passover.
Tamimi “noticed the young woman standing next to him, crouched, took out a knife from his bag and stabbed her a number of times”, Israeli police said. He was wrestled to the ground by an off-duty Israeli police officer and disarmed. Medics attempted to give Ms Bladon CPR and rushed her to hospital but were unable to save her life.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: “We can confirm the tragic death of a British national in Jerusalem. We are providing support to her family at this difficult time and are in touch with local authorities.”
Mark Regev, Israel’s ambassador to the UK, said: “My thoughts are with the family and friends of UK student Hannah Bladon, who was murdered in a senseless act of terror in Jerusalem today.”
The University of Birmingham also paid tribute in a statement, which said they were "deeply saddened" by the death and added: "Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this tragic time."
The Shin Bet, Israel’s equivalent of MI5, said Tamimi was suicidal and appeared to have carried out the attack in the hope of being killed by Israeli forces. He had attempted suicide by swallowing a razor blade in hospital last year, the Shin Bet said.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, said the attack was an example of “radical Islamic terrorism”. “On behalf of all the people of Israel, I offer condolences to the family of the murdered girl,” he said.
A pregnant woman was lightly injured when the tram came to an abrupt halt after police hit the emergency brake. A man was also injured trying to escape the attack.