Knife found on terrorist's person
Knife found on terrorist's person Israel Police

An eyewitness to Tuesday morning's arrest of a terrorist moments before he launched an attack told Arutz Sheva on Wednesday about how he spoke to the terrorist minutes before, and had no idea how close he was to being stabbed.

On condition of anonymity, the witness recalled how on Tuesday morning at Jerusalem's Central Station he "struck up a conversation with an Arab guy, about 20 years old, about why the ticket machine wasn't accepting my currency notes."

"The train was coming in four minutes and I was annoyed that the transaction was taking so much time. He posited that maybe it was that the new 50 shekel note wasn't programmed into the scanner, but the 20 and 100 shekel (note) wasn't working either, so I stepped aside for him, and he topped off his Rav Kav (transit card) while I rummaged through my wallet for a credit card to enable my purchase.

"By then we both missed our train, and stood nearly alone on the recently cleared platform. He mulled about while I stood aside to examine the progress on the new train station under construction right behind me. Not being able to see much I turned back toward the track, where I saw the Arab guy walking toward a guard. Apparently the guard asked him to come close.

"Once they started speaking the guard walked him back to the platform where I was standing. He asked him to empty his pockets, and he was cooperating. He took out an iPhone 6, his blue Israeli identity card, some ear buds and his Rav Kav."

The witness noted he identified with the Arab man, saying, "as I watched I was thinking how awful it must be to always be under suspicion, as today unfamiliar Arab young men milling about crowded areas are. I certainly didn't see him to be any danger, having only moments before spoken to him. So I watched the goings on, expecting it would all be cleared up by the time the next train arrived in another two minutes.

"A border policeman joined the guard in the interrogation and asked the Arab man to open his jacket, which he willingly did. Standing within two meters as I was, even then I still didn't see what the policeman did, but he was clearly alerted by something he noticed."

"I was shaken"

At that point, the witness was disillusioned as "the policeman told the guard to hold his arms, and then he reached under the Arab's belt area and pulled out a wooden handled kitchen knife with a six inch blade, concealed in the Arab's trousers."

"I was quite shaken by what I saw. I imagined immediately what that knife can have done to me, if the guard was as naive as I am. Why did he not strike me while he could? My suspicion is that though I would have been an easy target, my fumbling about at the ticket machine delayed him long enough so that the platform emptied into the train we missed."

"Perhaps he was waiting for the next crowded train, where a few swings of a blade would have done far more harm than if he had come after me alone. And I suppose he likely realized I'd likely have fought back. For now anyway, I'm told I look scary when I am hyperfocused on some thought or idea, and usually I am in that mindset."

"So, it all went down around me and I was clueless," said the man. "I don't know what the guard saw that made him suspicious, or if it was simply random profiling (a matter that several years ago put me in the midst of an argument that to my sorrow destroyed the closeness I had with a relative of mine, who abhorred my support for profiling)."

"Either way, this I learned today, that whatever that guard was doing, it saved many lives today. And I learned that here but by the grace of God am I, as are we all. If it were up to nature alone, on the evolutionary chain of prey vs. predator, I'd have been lunch long ago because frankly, thinking intensely about stuff all the time is probably not the result of generations of natural selection. Most intense thinkers probably got eaten somewhere along the way, I speculate. I simply didn't see it coming. He didn't seem aggressive, or angry. He seemed a bit timid, actually. So, I am thankful to those whose instincts are better than mine. Thanks for having my back."