Israeli busker gains fame as 'guitar hero'

Mr Montgomer hit the knife-wielding man with his guitar, shouting "terrorist" to warn others, until police shot the attacker dead. Mr Montgomery has since received several replacement guitars.
Mr Montgomer hit the knife-wielding man with his guitar, shouting "terrorist" to warn others, until police shot the attacker dead. Mr Montgomery has since received several replacement guitars.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

He is lauded online and in national media for stopping a man on stabbing rampage

TEL AVIV • An Israeli busker has become a local celebrity after smashing his guitar over the head of a Palestinian on a fatal stabbing rampage along the Tel Aviv seafront.

Mr Yishai Montgomery, 26, has been dubbed the "guitar hero" by Israeli media and on social networks for his attempt to stop the attack on Tuesday, which left an American tourist dead and 12 hurt, before a policeman shot the assailant dead.

Stunned by his overnight fame, he has been swamped with media interview requests and has received several replacement guitars, including one from Israeli star Aviv Geffen.

Well-wishers have set up a US$5,000 (S$6,900) crowdfunding campaign for him.

Mr Montgomery was playing on the beachside promenade in Jaffa, a picturesque Tel Aviv neighbourhood popular with tourists, when he saw a knife-wielding man attacking passers-by.

"For one moment I didn't understand that what I was seeing was real," he told media on Thursday.

He was quickly jerked to reality when the man, 21-year-old Bashar Masalha, ran towards him.

Mr Montgomery lashed out with his guitar, briefly stunning Masalha, then followed him as he ran off, shouting "terrorist" to warn others, until police shot him dead.

Since then, "I go from one interview to another," he said. "My phone doesn't stop ringing."

There are moments, Mr Montgomery said, when he misses the calm of his home village in southern Israel.

But those thoughts are soon swept aside by the recording offers he has received and the promise of a boost to his musical career, which has been stalled since he returned to Israel in January from a three-year stay in Canada.

"I have no definite plans. I am open to any changes and to all proposals," he said.

But Mr Montgomery has no illusions about the fleeting nature of fame.

"Tomorrow, everyone will have forgotten me," he said.

"But I don't care. I love guitars, and people have already given me four new ones."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2016, with the headline 'Israeli busker gains fame as 'guitar hero''. Print Edition | Subscribe