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In court woman confronts Palestinian who stabbed her

Issued: 2018-03-25

By Dan Williams

LOD, Israel (Reuters) - An Israeli woman faced off in court on Sunday with a Palestinian who had confessed to stabbing her, in a case that suggested the swirl of political and personal motives that can drive such attacks.

Malek Saada, a 20-year-old from the occupied West Bank, was working illegally as a baker in Lod, a mixed Jewish-Arab town south of Tel Aviv, when, a year ago, he ambushed Revital Danino outside her home, moderately wounding her before fleeing.

Captured by Israeli police, court papers showed, Saada confessed to the attack and said he had "purified himself" in advance at a mosque and targeted Danino because she was wearing religious Jewish garb.

"(The attack) was definitely nationalistic in nature," Saada's lawyer, Alaa Tellawi, told Reuters, reiterating what he described as his client's position from the outset.

Testifying at the opening of Saada's trial, Danino, a 45-year-old school principal, raised another possible factor in the attack: drink.

"When he was close to me, he had a smell of alcohol, but his behavior was very decisive," she told the three judges, as Saada sat slumped in the dock, watching impassively.

Officials on both sides have said a wave of Palestinian street attacks that began in 2015 stemmed from a volatile combination of political tensions in the conflict with Israel and personal problems suffered by some of the assailants.

"He had murder in his eyes," Danino said, short of breath, her face flushed. "I curled up by instinct, and felt his knife slipping from my neck and further down, to where I was stabbed."

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