Thirty-eight year-old Avi Turjeman, an electrician from Kiryat Gat, suffered moderate head and hand injuries when he was attacked Thursday by two Arab construction workers on a building site. The three were working on a building in the southern kibbutz of Masuot Yitzhak when the unprovoked attack occurred. The Arab assailants fled without a trace and without an apparent motive, after committing the fourth employment-related attack on Jews by Arab workers this year.

According to Rafi Ben-Tal, the security coordinator at Masuot Yitzchak, Turjeman was working on a house when the two Arabs, who were standing on the roof of the house, jumped on the Jewish contractor, and one of them began hitting him with the hammer. The attacker and the other worker then escaped.

"I had no argument with them and did not talk to them," said Turjeman. "They attacked me from the back, one hitting me in the head and hand with the hammer, and the other helping him near the door. I managed to grab the hammer and jump out of the window." Ben-Tal noted that the workers escaped in an unknown direction in a white Mazda 323 sedan. The motive for the attack remains unclear.

Eleven people have been murdered in the attacks by Arab workers. In March, a terrorist gunned down eight yeshiva students in the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva where he once worked, while earlier this month an Arab construction worker for the Jerusalem Municipality plowed his bulldozer through crowded Jaffo Street in the city center, crushing three people to death. Just this Tuesday another construction worker for the municipality tried to kill bystanders with his tractor, in what was apparently a copycat attack.

The perpetrators of Thursday’s hammer attack remain unidentified and on the loose, leaving many to wonder if this is just the latest in a spate of workplace attacks by Arab terrorists. Ben-Tal could not say for sure what exactly motivated the attack, but he did not rule out the possibility that it was a random act of violence committed by unruly civilians.

The Police investigation into the incident revealed that the two workers were brought in from the Palestinian Authority (PA) city of Tayibe by a contractor at the construction site. Despite the fact that it was their first day at work, the contractor dropped the Arabs off and left them alone with the electrician.

The contractor was taken in for questioning by the police, who were trying to determine whether the two attackers had valid Israeli work permits.

A witness nearby reported hearing shouts and screams coming from the work site. “Suddenly I saw the guy jump out of the window with a hammer in his hand. He was injured in the head and was bleeding. His thumb was crushed and he began running. The Arabs escaped as well. The Jewish worker fell on his back at first, and I believe he was injured."

“These kinds of attacks happen all the time on construction sites,” said Baruch Brenner, a building contractor whose company hires all-Jewish labor. “A worker will get angry with his boss or colleague and take it out on him physically.” Brenner noted that this attack was distinguished by the use of a work equipment to inflict injury. “Jewish workers attack Jewish workers as well, as much as we’d like to think otherwise. The difference is that Jewish workers may beat up their boss, but they won’t [try to] kill him.”

Brenner went on to denounce the conditions that Arab construction workers are subjected to in Israel, calling it “slave labor”, and implicating the construction industry nation-wide in perpetuating the ongoing Arab-Israeli conflict.

“About 80% of PA Arabs, and [a] somewhat smaller portion of Israeli Arabs, make their living in Israel in one way, and one way only: construction… Right now, it costs three to four times as much to hire a Jew to do construction than an Arab,” noted Brenner, concluding that this leaves most contractors with no choice but to hire Arabs despite the security risk they pose, since most Israelis cannot be realistically expected to pay a much higher price for their house than their neighbors.

Ben-Tal echoed similar sentiments. “This time it was a hammer. Another time it’s a bulldozer.” The security officer underscored the imperative to make salaries and working conditions in the construction industry competitive to those in other fields. “When will Jews want to work in jobs that only Arabs are willing to take?”

“It’s a long time until we are going to see the end of this story,” said the civilian security officer after interrupting his statements to ask for ID from some Arab workers at his kibbutz.