Jerusalem ramming attack: Four killed as truck rams into IDF soldiers
The Jerusalem Post – By Daniel K. Eisenbud, Herb Keinon, Anna Ahronheim, Jpost.Com Staff –
Four soldiers were killed, and 17 wounded, after a flatbed truck driven by an Arab terrorist rammed into a group of conscripts adjacent to the Armon Hanatziv promenade in southern Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon.
According to the IDF spokesman, an additional two cadets were seriously wounded, and 15 other officers and cadets sustained less severe wounds. Some 300 soldiers were in the area at the time of the attack, the IDF said.
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Yossi Fraenkel, deputy commander of ZAKA in Jerusalem, said 12 of the wounded are in light condition, four are in either serious or moderate condition, and one is in critical condition.
All the victims were evacuated to different area hospitals.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who visited the scene with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman shortly after the 1:30 p.m. attack, said the terrorist was identified as Fadi al-Qanbar, from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, long a hotbed of incitement and violence.
“We know the identity of the attacker, and according to all the signs, he is a supporter of Islamic State,” Netanyahu said, without elaborating.
He added that there may be a connection between this attack and similar attacks recently in France and Berlin.
“We are fighting this plague, and will defeat it,” Netanyahu said, noting that Jabel Mukaber has been cordoned off, and that “we are taking other actions that I will not detail here.”
“We will overcome this terror, just as we overcame other attacks,” he said. “There are a number of actions that we will not specify at this time, which we will have to take to ensure that incidents such as these do not recur.”
Lieberman said the attack was clearly the result of incitement against Jews living in Israel.
“This brutal attack is obviously not because of any other reason but one: Because we are Jews and we live here in Israel,” he said. “There was no other reason, and no need to look for an excuse – not Jewish settlements and negotiations, but an attack inspired by ISIS.”
Lieberman continued: “We saw that in France, we saw it in Berlin, and unfortunately, we saw it today in Jerusalem. We will fight this terrorism with all tools at our disposal, and I’m sure that will win.
Soon after visiting the site, Netanyahu was scheduled to convene a meeting of the security cabinet.
Magen David Adom spokesman, Elli Zenilman, said multiple emergency personnel units responded immediately after receiving a call reporting the attack.
“When we arrived at the scene, we saw something that was horrifying – young adults lying on the street in the area of the attack,” said Zenilman, a few meters from the carnage, which was cordoned-off by police.
MDA paramedic Landy Sharon said he saw a truck that hit a group of young people that got off a bus near the Armon Hanatziv observation post.
“About 10 people were lying on the ground near the street,” he said. “Some of them were trapped under the truck.”
ZAKA Jerusalem Commander Bentzi Oering described the scene as reminiscent of a battlefield.
“This is a very difficult attack,” he said. “I arrived with other ZAKA volunteers and the scene looked like a battlefield. Many injured lay on the grass, some of them were still trapped under the terrorist’s truck.”
ZAKA Jerusalem Operations Commander Meir Akar said a crane provided by the firefighters was used to lift the front part of truck to free those trapped underneath.
“Tragically, they were no longer alive,” he said.
“A team from the forensics department of the Israel Police and ZAKA carried out the initial identification of the dead,” Akar continued. “ZAKA then removed the bodies of the four victims and the terrorist. Another ZAKA team remained at the scene to clear the significant amount of blood and remains to bring them to burial.”
The truck’s windshield was riddled with bullet holes, as dozens of first-responders, police and fire-rescue personnel secured the scene and completely closed off traffic on the main thoroughfare next to the popular promenade.
Speaking to the press minutes after the attack, Police Commissioner, Insp.- Gen. Roni Alsheich, said al-Qanbar had a vailid Israeli driver’s license and plate.
Alsheich added that there was no prior warning of the attack, but that police have set up checkpoints in Jabel Mukaber, and heightened security throughout the capital.
Commander of the Officer’s School, Col.Yaniv Aluf, carried out a preliminary investigation of the incident, which appeared to contradict an earlier version of events given by a military trainer, identified only as Eitan, who said that soldiers hesitated to shoot towards the truck, in part [due to the] the manslaughter conviction of IDF soldier Elor Azaria last week.
Aluf’s investigation suggested that at least two cadets fired at close range toward the terrorist.
IDF Spokesman Moti Almoz backed this assertion, saying that it was incorrect to say that soldiers hesitated to shoot, or that the Azaria conviction had some bearing on the incident.
The soldiers did not understand at first that it was an attack, thinking it was a car accident, he said. “The moment that they realized that it was an attack, two cadets fired towards the truck,” Almoz added.
It was not clear if their shots killed the attacker or stopped the attack, but it is clear that they used their weapons, he said.
“The army does not know of any soldier who was afraid to shoot because of Azaria,” Almoz said, rejecting Eitan’s take on the events.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat spoke during an impromptu press conference to dozens of reporters.
“To our dismay, there is no limit to the cruelty of the terrorists who are willing to use any means possible to murder Jews and to damage the life routine of Israel’s capital,” said Barkat.
“Those who incite and fan the flames of terror must pay a heavy price,” he added. “I call the residents of Jerusalem and the country at large to be alert, and despite this hard terror attack, to carry on in your daily routines, and do not let terror win.”
On Twitter, Hamas lauded the attack as “heroic,” although did not take credit.
“The truck operation in Jerusalem affirms that all attempts to encircle the [Palestinian] intifada will fail,” the Palestinian terrorist group wrote.