Ceramic Knife Used in Israel Stabbing

I have no comment on the politics of this stabbing attack, and only note that the attacker used a ceramic knife—that will go through metal detectors.

I have used a ceramic knife in the kitchen. It’s sharp.

EDITED TO ADD (6/22): It looks like the knife had nothing to do with the attack discussed in the article.

Posted on June 20, 2017 at 6:21 AM53 Comments


Chris Zweber June 20, 2017 7:22 AM

Wait for mainstream 3D printed metal free guns printed from reinforced plastic.

Maybe in the future hard plastic will be regulated like dynamite, construction use only.

TS June 20, 2017 7:28 AM

Even a plastic knife will still kill people – as long as you got a nice sharp point.
Ceramic is nastier,. because you can break it off after stabbing,.
nothing new really.

And your home ceramic knife is probably just ceramic coated.
I know mine are – at least the pans are.

lazy June 20, 2017 8:08 AM

Not new idea. Check out the model Frequent Flyer from Mad Dog Knives. The name gives a hint.

scot alexander June 20, 2017 8:41 AM

Interesting, as knives that can pass through a metal detector one of the oldest technologies in existence. How long before someone calls for a ban?

TS June 20, 2017 8:44 AM

Basically even a shard of pointed glass would work if you just want to stab someone to death.
Slicing is another matter – but again – glass is sharp as heck as wel.

If you are found carrying a knife – even a ceramic or plastic one,. when boarding an airplane,. you will get thrown into the holding cell.
There’s already a ban on sharp and pointy objects as far as i know.

scot alexander June 20, 2017 9:09 AM

(While the Jerusalem article doesn’t mention a ceramic knife, a bright yellow knife, possibly ceramic, is pictured. And a home-built submachine gun.)

Melvin Varkey June 20, 2017 9:12 AM

Yet another method is to Freeze some water in a knife mold and use that “ice knife” to stab someone….no fingerprints…no proof 😉

Steve June 20, 2017 9:44 AM

@TS: “at no point in the article is any mention of the knife being ceramic made though?”

There’s a photo of the knife. It’s obvious it’s a ceramic knife. In fact, I own one that’s virtually identical to it that I carry in my camera bag.

Ren June 20, 2017 10:00 AM

Might there be an advantage to being attacked with a sharp knife? Meaning the wounds are more cleanly cut leaving to easier wound to deal with.

Also not clear if the knife would pass a metal detector, some ceramic knives still have metal in the handle.

The laws in the UK regarding stealth knives have exceptions of “domestic use or for use in the processing, preparation or consumption of food or as a toy”. Why they didn’t require them to have some metal in the handle is strange. Especially given how kitchen knives are, I believe, the most used in violence.

AgentZico June 20, 2017 10:10 AM

It’s fast becoming a trend. A crude, non-sophisticated but effectively deadly weapon that evades metal detectors – a security measure that deters the use of metallic weapons guns, shrapnels etc.

Parabarbarian June 20, 2017 11:19 AM

Stabbing tools made of materials that will not trigger metal detectors have been around for years. The Cold Steel Delta Dart is a good example.

Winter June 20, 2017 11:56 AM

Obsidean knives were already used by Homo Erectus. How you want to ban such technology is beyond me.

JG4 June 20, 2017 12:12 PM

THz scanners will do a nice job of showing up plastic and ceramic knives. I prefer those to x-ray scanners (“backscatter”) because it is non-ionizing radiation. x-ray scanners do an especially good job of showing up the zirconium oxide ceramics from Kyocera. Neither plastic nor ceramic will show up on metal detectors.

I can’t remember who told me the story last year, but they or their friend worked in the ER. The story was current, the events having transpired the year before. The boy scouts went around town selling ceramic knives. Naturally, a lot of people bought them, wanting to do their civic duty to support the imperial forces. Most people who have never spent time with a ceramic knife have any conception of how sharp they are. The ER was flooded with people having cut their fingers to the bone or cut off pieces. The wounds produced by a ceramic knife attack may be easier to suture, but they are going a lot deeper to where the vitals are. They will be much more fatal, especially at the neck.

@Clive – Thanks for the history lesson and correction of the Churchill quote yesterday. Today I was offered the loan of a book to read that covers the juxtaposition of Churchill’s and Orwell’s conceptions of freedom. Will report the title after I see it and the content after I read it.

Me June 20, 2017 1:54 PM

“If you are found carrying a knife – even a ceramic or plastic one,. when boarding an airplane,. you will get thrown into the holding cell.”

I doubt that. More likely you’ll just “donate” it and be on your way. (Forgetting you’re carrying a Leatherman is expensive. I’ve contributed at least one to the TSA toy fund.)

Jon June 20, 2017 3:16 PM

@Me: Yes, if you’re a clearly wealthy older white man. Try it being young and brown, without a good grasp of English.


trsm.mckay June 20, 2017 3:40 PM

Perhaps more interesting on the security front, is the mention of travel restrictions towards the end of the article:

Israel had eased restrictions on the entrance of Palestinians from the West Bank for Ramadan, including permitting daily family visits during Sundays through Thursdays. … Netanyahu canceled the family visits … Netanyahu, however, did not revoke the permission given to Palestinian men aged over 40 from the West Bank to enter Jerusalem for Friday prayers .. The measures were similar to those of previous years.

Interesting to see what they normally do, and how they (publicly) reacted. The USA policies are much more opaque.

Bob June 20, 2017 4:25 PM

Ceramic, obsidian, fiberglass, wood, ink pens, pencils, glass. There’s almost no limit to the things you can stab someone with that won’t set off a metal detector.

Elliot June 20, 2017 7:46 PM

There is no such thing as being neutral, or uninvolved. If you don’t speak against injustice, you are siding with the oppressor. I’m unfollowing your feed now – I prefer to get my news and info from people who are altruistic, not amoral.

Dave June 20, 2017 8:36 PM

That’s not a ceramic knife, it’s just a generic (coloured) kitchen knife. There are vast numbers of these around, for example here’s Scanpan’s contribution: “The sharp blade is made of high quality carbon stainless steel and the blade features a non-stick coating”.

It’s a kitchen knife, nothing more.

tyr June 20, 2017 9:04 PM

Has anyone else noticed that trying to
ignore folk you disagree with only gets
you further and further into useless
cognitive dissonance and delusionary
ideas about the world you live in.

The interNet seeemed to adopt this as a
useful role model before it was swamped
with ordinary people. I always want to
hear from the opposition because that
leads to less surprise when the storm
troops at your door to haul you away.

The question of how to disarm the most
dangerous land mammal in existence has
always been worth considering. The wild
ideas it generates are amazing as well.
Homemade machine guns are easier to do
than semi automatics. A lathe is much
cheaper than a computer and 3D printer
and just being a shiny new toy doesn’t
give it some magic attributes unless you
believe in magic. Competent humans are
highly dangerous if provoked, and quite
safe to be around if unmolested.

The aged bell curve idea will tell you
that an increase in population generates
a greater aberrant fringe on the tail of
deviance and that’s where your police and
surveillance will have the greatest effect
on security. Even the feeble-minded can
understand that but it seems to be ignored
by the government agencies with their own
budgetary agendas or political scams.

Steve June 20, 2017 10:27 PM

@Elliot define injustice? Is it whatever you feel like at the moment, or is it some moral high ground unattainable by mere mortals? Is this some 24/7 internet rage machine position you’ve staked out hoping someone will stand with you?

Adam June 20, 2017 11:58 PM

@Elliot: not sure if you saw it, but Bruce has publicly apologized and begged you to not unfollow him. He even wrote an open letter to you, taking back his earlier stance and agreeing to abide by your moral requirements, whatever they may be.

You can read the entire heartfelt article here:

Drone June 21, 2017 12:29 AM

@Winter said, “Obsidean knives were already used by Homo Erectus. How you want to ban such technology is beyond me.”

The bans and intimidation at check-points are not so much about security, but more about government control.

Clive Robinson June 21, 2017 2:04 AM

The knife looks “factory fresh” as though just out of the packet, with no hand or other marks on it.

Unfortunatly the resolution pf the download does not make the makers name visable.

Which is important because not all knives that are coloured like that are real ceramic knives. There are some realy cheap knives out there that are colourd but have ordinary quite soft metal blades.

The point needs to be made that even very soft metals like copper can be used to kill people. In fact some daggers used in cerimonial / ritulistic killing were made from them.

Man has also used the likes of dried “elephant grass” to make pointed weapons along with bamboos and similar. You can with a modicum of skill use fire to “harden” the points. Likewise certain dense woods can be made into quite effective pointed weapons.

But in a way man has been making knives as sharp as those made from ceramic for millennia using various stones including flint, jade and obsidian. The latter is also known as “volcanic glass” and has been tried out experimentaly for scalpels due to it’s ultrafine edge (the sharper the knife the finer the scar). There are also quite a few crystals that can produce fine cutting edges.

The thing is most such blades are impractical for many reasons. Not least because they are too hard and brittle thus are difficult to work / machine and shatter fairly easily.

Eugene June 21, 2017 3:23 AM

Hadas a sad loss. A.I analysis. Personally I think these weapons where acquired after entry.
In terror stricken regions of the world A.I Analysis in surveillance should be pioneered and developed. Human interaction should become more distant but still in touch.

Herman June 21, 2017 3:42 AM

Well, stone age weapons still work just as well today as they did in the stone age.

me June 21, 2017 4:02 AM

on how it’s made they showed how they make ceramic knife and they said some metal is added to allow the detection by metal detector;

not sure all companies does this but anyway as many pointed out even a pice of glass works or almost any object that you have

Eugene June 21, 2017 4:25 AM

In dealing with terror, it’s important to get a system in place where initial contact with humans are limited. I would not put a human body out there. I would be dealing with the person in a respectful way without an accent or a human face. It should be via a clear A.I voice that can be driven by a person who would like to ask more interrogative like questions if necessary. It should be bomb proof and be built for deployment. If there is a checking of luggage or goods it needs to be transparent to the person who is being processed so a means of visibility needs to be incorporated. Biometrics might come into play, such as heart-rate, dilate pupils angst etc. even weight can be measured etc. Human tensions however should be kept away as much as possible in the process and it must be done with utmost respect to the person throughout. If human intervention becomes necessary the preliminaries should have been completed…

Dan H June 21, 2017 7:33 AM

Ceramic goes through metal detectors. So would a newspaper, which can be tightly rolled into a weapon. A shirt can be removed and used to strangle someone. Point is that there isn’t any conceivable way to stop people who intend to do harm to others.

parabarbarian June 21, 2017 9:01 AM

“Well, stone age weapons still work just as well today as they did in the stone age.”

Absolutely: There are no obsolete weapons. Just obsolete tactics.

Kate June 21, 2017 1:50 PM

In this case, the attackers didn’t need to pass metal detectors to reach the site of the attack. It’s right on a main street in a public area. I know the area and I’ve never once seen metal detectors there. Additionally, the attack appears to have been outside the Damascus gate, so if there was a perimeter put up there because of Ramadan, it would have happened outside of it.

More pics of the scene are visible here (Hebrew article):

Possibly they had to get it past a checkpoint on the way into Jerusalem… but they don’t seem to have had similar problems with the assault rifles. Also, there are like 20 household supply stores within 2 blocks of the site of the attack (inside and outside the Old City walls), where they could easily have bought a brand-new metal knife.

As mentioned above, it’s not certain that this was a ceramic knife. It’s also probably not the knife used in the stabbing itself.

The main problem with using a ceramic knife in a stabbing attack like this is how brittle it is. On-duty forces there would probably have been wearing an ammunition vest (made of tough fabric – like backpack straps but thicker), even if they didn’t have a protective vest on underneath. If the knife met any resistance in an attempted stabbing, or in a fight, it would likely shatter before doing any damage.

In a lot of these attacks, the attacker will stab one person (or try to), and then go on to fight the responders while trying to stab as many more people as possible. You don’t want your knife shattering the first time it meets a hard object in a case like this.

So… interesting choice, is what I’m saying (if it really was a ceramic knife). In the case of this attack, not a sign of particular thought or professionalism.

Slava June 21, 2017 3:14 PM

My ceramic knives from IKEA have metal-looking stripe on the spine. Now I wonder if this is the metal-detector helper.

WhiskersInMenlo June 21, 2017 7:32 PM

Stabbing tools made of materials include sharpened tooth brushes in prison.
A bit of PVC pipe would make a dandy weapon with little effort.

Steinbeck was a master at adding detail that made his reports more believable. Today such detail seems to have an agenda. Was there a check point cleared because the knife was ceramic, if not what was the point of reporting this detail.
Perhaps just Steinbeck like embellishment. A reporter reporting on the stage props in a security theater.

WhiskersInMenlo June 21, 2017 7:53 PM

Should have looked at the picture of the knife myself.

It is not a ceramic knife. It is one of the very common and cheep PTFE/Epoxy/Teflon coated knives that are inexpensive stainless steel.

Stainless steel colored blades, stick resistant coating,
high quality professional grade
Vivid colors help prevent cross contamination
8″ chef’s knife, 8″ bread knife, 8″ slicing knife,
6″ Santoku knife, 5″ utility knife 3.5″ Paring knife,
6 individual sheaths, wash and wipe blade and handle dry after each use
Hand washing is recommended, store each knife in its matching sheath

Yes they are sharp and the matching sheath keeps them that way.

These rainbow colored knives would be common in a lunch kit and picnic basket many places.

Compare with a Kyocera Ceramic knife white or black that would likely pass metal detectors. See this prize…
KYOCERA’S Premier Elite Series features our finest HIP ceramic blade for superior strength and sharpness….premium ceramic blade is Hot Isostatically Pressed (HIP) which provides superior strength and sharpness compared to Kyocera’s traditional white ceramic blade.

nik June 21, 2017 9:41 PM

In California all ceramic knives must be detectable by a metal detector. Many do have metal in the handle for the “CA model”
Oddly, ceramic razorblades are not restricted. In any case posession is not a crime or illegal, non- metallic are just not meant to be sold ( like any “good” gas can )

Bruce Schneier June 22, 2017 7:28 AM

“Really … you have no comment on the depraved murder of a police officer?”

On this blog, no. It would be off topic.

Elsewhere, of course.

Clive Robinson June 22, 2017 8:12 AM

@ WhiskersinMenlo,

Was there a check point cleared because the knife was ceramic, if not what was the point of reporting this detail.

Ignoring for the minute it appears not to be a ceramic knife –because we still don’t know either way for certain– and work on the assumption that the attacker thought it was.

An attacker would buy a “metal detector non trigering” knife only if they thought there was a risk of being detected prior to reaching their target. That is they would be worried of random check points with “wand down” or “portable arch” metal detectors. An attacker would not by such a knife if there were static check points, they would simply work out a way to get around them or pick another target where there were not effective static check points.

Thus this would suggest that random “wand downs” by the security services would cause attackers more problems than static checkpoints.

Without going through the math it would appear that if security resources are limited you would take static security measures at high value points and random measures in most other places.

However a word of caution, to save resources some might feel that aggregating high value targets into a small area would make most value of static resources. Actually it probably would not, because it would make such a target of considerably increased value thus the attacker would have more incentive to attack it in ways they would not otherwise have considered. That is rather than a simple use of vehicles, knives and guns they would look at smuggling in explosives or the components of explosives or developing new weapons such as rockets, glider bombs and drones. This requires educated attackers, and usually such people do not regard themselves as “disposable DNA”. The result is that they will also learn by their mistakes, where as the “I give my life” types won’t and thus not become more effective with time, unlike the defenders.

Put crudely you do not want to “educate your attacker” because this makes them a rather more formidable opponent. Even in asymmetric warfare brains are still the number one asset for either side. There is an old military saying “Don’t leave ammunition for the enemy” forcing them to become more thoughtful and learn from their mistakes is probably a lot worse.

At the end of the day you also need to understand the attackers motives. Often they are actually not looking to do significant direct damage but cause much larger damage by indirect means. That is they want to create fear uncertainty and doubt. Thus when played correctly the fear becomes a paralyzing agent and thus much more significant damage results.

This is the same as the “Long Gun Effect”, a sniper does very little damage, much less than a couple of mortar rounds. But the fear of a sniper is “in their area” can demoralize entire battalions and make them unfit to fight effectively (which is a reason why few snipers ever make it as far as being a POW).

The reason it’s so effective is because it feels “personal not random”, your imagination can almost feel the gaze through the scope and imagine how you are being evaluated by some unknown criteria to be singled out for death or not, never knowing if you have been “passed over or not”.

To a lesser extent the same sort of thinking stops people wanting to travel to, or trade with a place, where there are such fears.

Trying to reduce such stress can be an almost immeasurably large burden when it comes to resources. Because not only does the deterrent have to be seen, it has to be seen to work, not just by a reduction in the number of attacks, but by actually catching attackers before they do so. It’s a big ask, which is why quite a few suspect that authorities are “making patsy attackers” so that the authorities “can be seen to be effective”…

Even when an attacker has not reasoned this out they can see by the way society changes that any attack will be newsworthy, the questoon is thus in what way. That is they will also see that non targeted or random attacks do not work as well in their favour.

This is in part because people start to realise there is little that can be done against random attacks, and a more fatalistic attitude starts to predominate in the way it does with accidents, or as is seen in war with the dropping of bombs. But there is also the issie of “killing of innocents”, it does not “work for the cause” in fact the opposite. Thus attackers have to go for identifiable targets in the publics mind, those in effect payed from the public purse to defend the public in a hostile or premptive manner.

That is random does not work as well for attackers as it does for defenders. Leaving the question of if attackers have realised this and thus if an advantage can be made of this difference by the defenders…

And I suspect it can with “random checking” more presence / boots on the ground and perhaps supprisingly a decrease in weapons in view. The latter point being that having a gun in effect legitimizes you as a target not just in the attackers minds but also in the publics mind as well, it’s the reason a wise politician “keeps troops off the streets” or police that look like troops of the streets.

AJWM June 22, 2017 3:08 PM

Humans have a very long history with ceramic knives, and even axes. Although for most of that history they’ve been natural ceramics like flint and obsidian…

AJWM June 22, 2017 3:23 PM


The thing is most such [stone] blades are impractical for many reasons. Not least because they are too hard and brittle thus are difficult to work / machine and shatter fairly easily.

Fortunately, our ancient ancestors were smart enough not to try machining the flint/obsidian etc, but rather they knapped it. The trick is to flake them to shape using pressure and their natural conchoidal fracture.

I daresay any bright young roboticist could build a machine to do that, but it would be a bit anachronistic.


Orpheus Rocker June 23, 2017 5:22 AM

Just for the record: the eptified Donald Mark II in Stand on Zanzibar kills a “mucker” on his mission improbable but slamming the mucker’s neck down on a glass shard. I am sure that other, equally ingenious methods can be used to kill people. According to Call the Midwife, the UK Govt did so very effectively in the Cockney quarters of London through preventable poverty and draconian “relief” methods, such as the workhouse.

JG4 June 23, 2017 8:45 AM

file under border/checkpoint security

The discussion of bypassing checkpoints reminded me of this story (below). I may have posted this many years ago. We now can add the drone model of weapons delivery to bypass border fences at various other purportedly secure places. I think that I posted the link to an Amazon radar system for $7.99 The Lockheed Martin version is slightly more expensive, but will be able track insects crossing into the zone. I realized some time in the past couple of years that the infrastructure and assumptions are all wrong for an era in which a back-packable quadrotor can put a man on top of a ten-story building. Not sure how big it would have to be to achieve silence, but you can bet your last piece of fiat paper that DARPA does. We are entering an interesting period of history.


“They erect this fence,” he said, “only to go out there a few days later and discover that these guys have a catapult, and they’re flinging hundred-pound bales of marijuana over to the other side.” He paused and looked at me for a second. “A catapult,” he repeated. “We’ve got the best fence money can buy, and they counter us with a 2,500-year-old technology.”

The whole article is worth reading. Somehow it encapsulates the human condition from profit to sociopaths. The point is not made in this article, but should be, that Mexico may not be able to afford to stop drug trafficking. It is a modest slice of GDP, but the gross margins are 10 times bigger than the profits from the manufacturing sector, which is a large slice of their GDP.

Clive Robinson June 23, 2017 11:18 AM

@ JG4,

When looking at the NY Times and stories about Mexico, it helps to remember that a certain mexican has an increasing amount of financial leverage on them,


As well as other US organisations that deal with “the media” citizens get their news, entertainment etc by…

Angelo Schneider March 9, 2019 11:46 AM

Ceramic knives are detected by metal detectors, as there is intentionally enough metal mixed in. At least the company Kyocera does that, and I assume the others do, too.

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