By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM, March 9 – U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said on Wednesday his wife Jill and their grandchildren were dining on a Tel Aviv beach when a Palestinian killed an American tourist with a knife and wounded 11 other people on the seafront “not very far” away.
Since October, Palestinian stabbings, shootings and car rammings have killed 28 Israelis and two U.S. citizens. Israeli forces have killed at least 179 Palestinians, 121 of whom Israel says were assailants. Most others were shot dead during violent protests.
“I don’t know exactly whether it was a hundred metres or a thousand metres,” Biden, on a visit to Israel, told reporters about Tuesday’s assault.
“It brings home that it can happen, it can happen anywhere, at any time,” he said, after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem.
Violence has surged since Biden’s arrival in Israel on Tuesday as part of a regional visit. Two Palestinians, who Israel said opened fire and wounded one man in Jerusalem on Wednesday, and a Palestinian who the military said tried to stab soldiers in the occupied West Bank, were killed by Israeli forces.
On Tuesday, Biden was meeting former Israeli President Shimon Peres several blocks from where the Palestinian was running along the Tel Aviv beachfront stabbing pedestrians and motorists stuck in traffic.
Taylor Force, a 28-year-old Vanderbilt University graduate student and a U.S. military veteran who Biden said served tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq, was killed and 11 people were wounded before police shot the attacker dead.
“Let me say in no uncertain terms, the United States of America condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn these acts,” Biden said, with Netanyahu at his side, in remarks that appeared critical of Palestinian leaders.
Palestinian leaders say many Palestinian attackers have acted out of desperation in the absence of movement towards creation of an independent state. Israel says they are being incited to violence by their leaders and on social media.
Later in the day, Biden, who has visited the Gulf during his trip and plans to travel to Jordan next, was due to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank.