British woman stabbed to death in Jerusalem named as exchange student Hannah Bladon

Attacker has been initially identified as a 57-year-old Palestinian man with mental health problems

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The Independent Online

A British student stabbed to death by a Palestinian man in Jerusalem has been named as 20-year-old Hannah Bladon.

Ms Bladon, a student at the University of Birmingham, had been on an exchange programme with the Rothberg International School at Hebrew University of Jerusalem since January.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the man attacked her as she travelled on the light rail near Jerusalem’s Old City.

She was rushed to Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center but died soon after arrival.

Mark Regev, Israel's ambassador to the UK, said: "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."

Witnesses say the 57-year-old attacker pulled a knife out of his bag and stabbed her multiple times in the upper part of her body as the tram was approaching City Hall.

An off-duty policeman, who was on board the tram with his family, immediately pulled the emergency brake and charged at the Palestinian. 

A 30-year-old pregnant woman and a 50-year-old man were also injured in the attack.

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British tourist Hannah Bladon who was stabbed to death in Jerusalem on Good Friday (PA)

Yoram Halevi, commander of the Jerusalem District in the Israeli Police, told a local radio station that the attacker had been arrested at the scene and is believed to suffer from mental illness.

Israel's Shin Bet intelligence service said the Palestinian attacker had recently tried to kill himself in hospital by swallowing a razor blade and that he was convicted of sexually abusing his daughter in 2011. 

In a statement, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem expressed its "deep sorrow over the murder of a British student, Hannah Bladon, in today's attack".

It said: "We extend our deepest condolences to her family and we share in their sorrow".

The area was packed with people at the time of the attack as Christians gather to celebrate Good Friday and Jewish people gather to observe Passover

The compound, which is regarded as the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism, is a constant source of tension. 

Muslims venerate the Dome of the Rock which is said by some Islamic scholars to be the spot where the Prophet Muhamed ascended to heaven.

Jews and Christians call it the Temple Mount and it hosts the Wailing Wall – the remains of an ancient Jewish temple torn down by the Romans. 

Jews are allowed to visit Temple Mount but they are forbidden from praying there – much to the anger of Israeli hardliners

The city has been on high alert during Holy Week after an increase in knife attacks by Palestinians. 

Since September 2015, Palestinians have killed 42 Israelis and two visiting Americans, mainly in stabbings, car ramming assaults and shooting attacks. 

Israeli forces have killed at least 243 Palestinians during that time, most of them identified as attackers by Israeli authorities. 

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Israeli security forces gathering at the site where a British woman was killed on the light rail near Jerusalem's Old City (Ahmad Gharabli/Getty Images)

Most of the Palestinians were killed while attempting attacks, Israeli police say. 

Others have been shot dead during protests and some have been killed in Israeli air strikes on the Gaza Strip.

Israel has accused the Palestinian leadership of inciting the violence.

The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, denies incitement and charges that in many cases, Israel has used excessive force in thwarting attackers armed with rudimentary weapons.

Israeli president Reuven Rivlin said in a statement that he is "filled with sadness" over the violence and that Israel's "thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim".

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A police officer patrolling the scene after the attack

"This week thousands have come through the ancient gates of Jerusalem, to celebrate the feasts of Passover and Easter throughout the city - while the security forces work to ensure the safety of the dear residents and visitors to the city. And so we will continue to do," he said.

"Terror can never overcome us. Terror will never destroy our lives here." 

The Board of Deputies of British Jews tweeted its condolences, saying: "Our hearts go out to family of the British woman murdered by a terrorist in Jerusalem, an unholy attack as city marks Passover & Good Friday".

The Jewish Leadership Council added: "We are horrified to hear of the murder of a British tourist near Old City of Jerusalem at a time of faith & peace. Send deepest sympathies."

Additional reporting by agencies