JERUSALEM -- An Arab man stabbed to death four Jewish women in a park yesterday, calling his crime "a message" to Secretary of State James A. Baker III on the eve of his visit to Israel to promote peace between Arabs and Jews, police said.
Police Commissioner Yaakov Terner told Israel's Army Radio that the Palestinian assailant "said himself, unequivocally, in English, that this is 'a message to Baker.' "
Commissioner Terner did not elaborate on what precisely the comment meant. But he said that police would beef up already heightened security for Mr. Baker's three-day visit, which begins today.
The attacker was identified as Mohammed Mustafa Abu Galala, 26, a male nurse from the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip, home to 52,000 Palestinian refugees and the birthplace of the revolt.
In Jewish West Jerusalem, the stabbing spree occurred about 3:30 p.m. in a playground in the Kiryat Yovel neighborhood near what is commonly called "Monster Junction." The playground, in a park abutting the junction, features a huge jungle gym sculpted in the shape of a monster.
Several women were waiting at a bus stop in the park when the assailant pulled out a 12-inch-long kitchen knife and charged the group, randomly stabbing his victims, police said.
Three women were killed on the spot. The fourth died in surgery. The victims, who ranged in age from 20 to 57, were not identified.
A 13-year-old girl also suffered a broken leg when she fell while fleeing the assailant. The girl, identified on Israel Radio only as Adi, said the attacker shouted the Muslim cry "Allahu Akbar" -- God is great -- as he stabbed his victims.