A 54-year-old Israeli man, identified as Arik and an employee for an Israeli communications company that operates in Africa, was on the flight with the intent to get on another flight to Israel after landing in Addis Ababa.
“About 20 minutes before the plane started its descent the passenger sitting behind me identified me as Israeli and Jewish,” Arik told the newspaper.
“He came up behind my seat and started to choke me with a lot of force,” he continued, “and 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.”
Most of the other passengers chose not to get involved, with the exception of one Lebanese passenger who assisted the crew in stopping the attack, Arik said.
“After they pulled him off me he hit me and shouted in Arabic. Some of the flight staff took me to the rear section of the plane and two guarded the attacker during the last part of the flight. 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.’ During the moments when I thought I was going to die, I’d already begun to separate from my family in my thoughts,” Arik said.
A statement released by Ethiopian Airlines about the incident said that “the attacker, who has been identified as Ahmed Mohamed, showed no signs of violence as he was boarding the flight. He attacked not only the Israeli but also other passengers and members of the flight crew. He is still in detention and is due to appear in court on Wednesday. The Israeli passenger was taken to a medical clinic in the airport and released shortly after. He was able to continue on to Tel Aviv as planned. We are sorry for the incident and will do everything we can in order to prevent further such attacks on our Israeli customers.”