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Afula axe attack
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The attack site
Location Afula, Israel
Date November 30, 1994
Attack type
Axe attack
Weapons Pickaxe
Deaths a 19-year-old Israeli soldier (Liat Gabai)
Perpetrators Lone Palestinian assailant (Wahib Abu Rub)

The Afula axe attack was a Palestinian militant attack which occurred on November 30, 1994 in northern town of Afula when a lone Palestinian assailant attacked a 19-year-old female Israeli soldier who was on her way home from the artillery base in which served in the downtown area of the town, near the town's police station. The attacker hit her head from behind with an axe. The attack, which shocked the Israeli public, was one of the more prominent Axe attacks at that time, which signified to many in the Israeli public a deterioration to their personal security at the time.[1] [2] [3]

Preparations for the attack

On the same day of the attack the assailant decided that he would attempt to attack an IDF soldier in Afula during the same day. As a result he bought a pickaxe in Jenin. Afterwards he boarded a taxi in Jenin, which led him to Israel. According to the Israeli police, the taxi managed to evade the checkpoints of the IDF forces and Israeli police forces by driving on dirt roads in the Ta'anakh region located south of Israel's Jezreel Valley.[4]

The attack

On Wednesday, 30 November 1994, the Palestinian assailant entered the Israeli town of Afula. He proceeded to a main street in downtown Afula, near the city's police station, where he approached a 19-year-old female Israeli soldier from behind. The soldier, Liat Gabai, was on her way back home from the military base in which she served to attend a memorial service for her grandmother.[5]

The assailant hit Gabai in the head with the pickaxe several times before she fell to the ground with the axe stuck in her head. Meanwhile, bystanders managed to capture the assailant.[6]

Subsequent events

After the attack Gabai was rushed in critical condition to the HaEmek Medical Center in Afula. Gabai died of her injury two hours after the attack and was buried in the military cemetery in Afula on December 1, 1994.[5] After her death, Liat was promoted to the rank of sergeant.

Immediately after the attack, fearing a revenge attack, extensive Israeli military and police forces escorted various Arab workers in the city back to their homes outside the city, while angry Jewish residents gathered in the streets.

The perpetrator

The attacker was an unemployed Palestinian 25-year-old Wahib Abu Rub from Qabatiya, a member of the Islamist militant organization Hamas.[7]

Release from prison

On 18 October 2011 abu al-Rub, who was originally sentenced to 1 life sentence, was released to the West Bank as part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas.[8]


Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin condemned the attack but said that violence will not stop the Middle East peace talks.[9]

During the mid-2000s (decade), Israeli singer Shai Gabso recorded the song "You tell me" (תגידי לי את) written in memory of Liat Gabai, with the assistance of Lt. Col. Yair Ben-Shalom who was Gabbai's commander.[10]

See also


Coordinates: 32°36′34″N 35°17′26″E / 32.6094°N 35.2906°E / 32.6094; 35.2906

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