An American woman was knifed to death and her British Israeli companion seriously injured when they were attacked by two assailants while walking in the wooded hills near Jerusalem over the weekend.
Briton Kaye Wilson, who narrowly survived the assault, claimed that two Arab men attacked her and her friend before trussing them and stabbing them repeatedly.
Suspicion for the attack appeared to fall on Arab militants. Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman, said it was probably a "terrorist attack" given the way in which the two women were tied up and stabbed. "The main line that we're looking at is that it's a nationalistically-motivated attack, but we haven't ruled out possible criminal motives," Mr Rosenfeld said.
Israeli soldiers raided a Palestinian hospital in nearby Bethlehem, in case the attackers were injured and sought treatment. No arrests were made.
Ms Wilson, a 46-year old Briton who emigrated to Israel in 1991, described how she and her friend, identified by police as US citizen Christine Logan, also in her 40s, were hiking near archaeological remains in the forested hills southwest of Jerusalem when two Arabic-speaking men approached and asked for water in Hebrew.
Ms Wilson suspected something was amiss, and started to urge her friend to rejoin the path, pulling out a pocket knife as she did so. As Ms Wilson turned back to see if the two men were following, the women were attacked. "It happened so quickly," Ms Wilson told Ynet, an English-language news site, from a Jerusalem hospital, where she is recovering. "One pulled a long knife, a bread knife with a sharpened edge. They came to kill. Nobody walks around with a knife like that for no reason."
Ms Wilson described how one of the men carefully removed a Star of David necklace from around her neck "like a gentleman", before he stabbed her 12 times. She only survived by pretending to be dead. "I waited a few minutes and then threw myself onto a slope, my hands tied behind my back," she said. "I found myself between the bushes, and ... I just wanted to sleep and felt as though I were about to collapse, but I knew I could not fall asleep. I managed to walk to a parking lot."
Passers-by helped her, and raised the alarm. Police and army units launched a massive manhunt late Saturday to search for but did not recover her body until the next day. There were no signs of sexual assault or robbery.
Civil rights groups cautioned police against reaching hasty conclusions that the attacks were carried out by militants, warning it could prompt renewed antagonism towards Israel's Arab Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.
"The police have a civic responsibility not to jump to conclusions, especially now when we are witnessing a very strong wave of racism towards Arabs in Israel," said Hasan Jabareen, executive director of the Arab Israeli organisation Adalah.
Attacks of this nature remain relatively rare in Israel.