Family of UK student killed in Jerusalem says attack 'senseless and tragic'
UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office
The family of a British exchange student murdered in a stabbing attack on a Jerusalem light rail Friday say they are "devastated" by the "senseless and tragic attack" that took the life of 21-year-old Hannah Bladon.
Hannah, who had begun studying at the Hebrew University in January on an exchange from the University of Birmingham, was critically wounded when a Palestinian man stabbed her multiple times with a kitchen knife on Jerusalem's light rail. She was taken to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus, where doctors tried unsuccessfully to save her life.
In a statement released Saturday, Hannah's family in the UK described her as "the most caring, sensitive and compassionate daughter you could ever wish for."
Hannah's final act of kindness was to give up her seat on the light rail for a woman holding a baby, Israel's Channel 2 news reported Saturday, placing her in proximity to her eventual killer.
The attack occurred around 10:00 GMT on Friday, near Tsahal Square just outside the Old City where Christian commemorations were under way for Good Friday as Jews marked the week-long Passover holiday.
The assailant, identified as 57-year-old Gamil Tamimi from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, was apprehended and taken in for interrogation a police spokesperson said Friday, noting that initial indications were that the man suffered mental problems.
According to a Channel 2 television report Saturday, Tamimi had been returning from a mental hospital when he carried out the attack.
He described the attack as "an attempted suicide attack," saying he felt he had "nothing left to lose" and had hoped a nearby soldier would shoot and kill him.
"I attacked her so that the soldier would shoot me," Tamimi is reported to have told investigators.
The Shin Bet security service said Friday that Tamimi had attempted to commit suicide earlier this year by swallowing razor blades. He has been remanded in custody and will undergo psychiatric tests.
Hannah had been studying religion, theology, and archaeology at the University of Birmingham and began an exchange program in Jerusalem in January. She was returning from an archaeological dig when she was killed, her family said.
"She was driven and passionate and her death leaves so much promise unfulfilled," the family said, noting she was "a talented student," an "enthusiastic rugby player," and "a keen Derby County supporter."
Amid safety concerns following a string of terror attacks in Jerusalem in January, Bladon had written to friends and family on her Facebook page that she “felt safe,” just a few months earlier.
“Thanks guys. I’m ok thanks!” she wrote in January below a photograph of the Temple Mount’s Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem. “Security is really tight on campus so no worries at [the] mo[ment]!”
A spokeswoman for the UK’s foreign office confirmed the death of Bladon early Saturday.
“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,” said the spokeswoman.
The Hebrew University said that it “condemns such acts of terror that harm innocent people,” in a statement on Friday, also expressing condolences to the student’s family.
“Especially a student who to came to Jerusalem to study and widen her academic horizons.”
The Director of the University’s Rothberg School Office and Student Life said to Israeli TV's Channel 10 News, that Bladon was “very polite,” appearing shy, “but she wasn’t like that,” he said. “She was adventurous and had come here to have experiences, to meet people, and to get to know the history of the state.”
A statement released from the University of Birmingham wrote: “We are deeply saddened to hear about the death of our student Hannah Bladon who was killed whilst on an exchange program in Jerusalem.”
“Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this tragic time and we will be providing support for any student affected by this terrible event.”
Israeli officials including the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also expressed their sympathies.
“In the name of all the people of Israel, I offer condolences to the family of the murdered girl,” Netanyahu said on his Facebook page.
“Radical Islamic terrorism strikes in capital cities across the world. Unfortunately, it struck today in the capital of Israel, Jerusalem.”
“Our forces will continue to operate around the clock in order to protect the people of Israel,” he added.
President of Israel Reuven Rivlin took to Twitter to condemn the attack on Friday stating that, “Our thoughts are with the family of the victim and the injured of the terror attack in Jerusalem. Terror can never overcome us.”
Following the attack, Jerusalem’s mayor Nir Barkat said, “I send my condolences to the family of the murdered woman in the despicable stabbing attack, and I call upon everyone to continue to travel in Israel in general, and in Jerusalem in particular, and to continue to work hard against anyone who tries to break the routine of our lives.”
Israel’s ambassador to the UK, Mark Regev, also expressed sympathies via Twitter.
“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,” he wrote.
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