JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Sudanese migrant in Israel stabbed and wounded a soldier in an apparent act of solidarity with Palestinians and was shot dead, police said.
If that motive is confirmed, it would be the first such attack by a foreigner during a four-month-old surge of Palestinian street violence fueled in part by Muslim anger at perceived Jewish encroachment on a contested Jerusalem shrine.
In the occupied West Bank, a tent used as a synagogue near an Israeli outpost was the target of a suspected arson attack in which several Torah scrolls were burned.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called at the weekly meeting of his cabinet on Sunday for international condemnation of “this heinous act” and said it should equal the outcry over the desecration of mosques by suspected Jewish militants in recent years.
Police, commenting on the stabbing in the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon, said the suspect lightly wounded a soldier at a bus station and fled, pursued by another soldier who shot him.
“The behavior, the location, the flight, the targeting of a soldier - all of these add up to a nationalistic attack,” Ashkelon police chief Shimon Portal told reporters, using a term Israelis often apply to Palestinian violence.
Before he died, the wounded suspect “mumbled a few unclear statements in Arabic but otherwise did not say a word,” Portal said.
A police spokeswoman said efforts to identify the suspect “thus far” had determined he was Sudanese. She did not elaborate on what he had been doing in Israel.
Thousands of Sudanese have entered Israel illegally through neighboring Egypt in recent years, some seeking work and others asylum. Israel’s efforts to repatriate them have been hampered by the fact it has no ties with Sudan, a Muslim country.
The wave of stabbings, shootings and car-rammings carried out by Palestinians has killed 27 Israelis and a U.S. citizen since October. Israeli forces have killed at least 156 Palestinians, 101 of them assailants, according to authorities. Most of the others died during violent protests.
Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and Raissa Kasolowsky