On Tuesday, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the incident which resulted in an injury to 54-year-old Arik Zanuda , who works in an Israeli communication firm with branches in Africa. He was reportedly en route to Tel Aviv after landing in Addis Ababa.
According to Ynetnews, the violent incident happened just 20 minutes before the plane began its descent. The assailant, who has been identified as Ahmed Mohamed, a Sudanese national, somehow ascertained that Zanuda was a Jew and an Israeli citizen before attacking him.
He came up behind my seat and started to choke me with a lot of force,” Zanuda said. “At first I couldn’t get my voice out and call for help.”
“He hit me over the head with a metal tray and shouted ‘Allah akbar’ and ‘I will slaughter the Jew.’ Only after a few seconds just before I was about to lose consciousness, did I manage to call out and a flight attendant who saw what was happening summoned her colleagues,” he added.
According to Zanuda, most passengers aboard the flight refused to get involved in the attack. A Lebanese traveler was one of the few people who helped to pull Mohamed away from Zanuda.
Reports indicate that flight attendants took Zanuda to the rear section of the plane where he remained guarded throughout the flight.
Zanuda added that his Lebanese rescuer told him that after Mohamed was seized, he tried to convince the other passengers to lynch him before the plane lands.
“After we landed the Lebanese guy told me that I’d been saved twice, because after they’d overpowered my attacker he said to everyone: ‘Let’s finish him off,” he said.
Ethiopian Airlines released a statement apologizing for the incident. The press release says Mohamed exhibited no signs of violence when he boarded the plane. He is said to have also attacked other passengers besides Zanuda.
“He attacked not only the Israeli but also other passengers and members of the flight crew. He is still in dentition and is due to appear in court Wednesday,” the statement said.
According to Ethiopian Airlines, Zanuda was taken to a medical facility in the airport soon after the flight’s arrival. He was released shortly after and he did not sustain fatal injuries.
“He was able to continue o Tel Aviv as planned. We are sorry for the incident and will do everything we can in order to prevent further such attacks in our Israeli customers,” the statement added.