Palestinian Driver Rams Truck Into Israeli Troops, Killing 4

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  • Truck hits soldiers beside bus at east Jerusalem tourist site
  • Diplomatic pressure grows over Israeli management of Jerusalem

A Palestinian truck driver deliberately plowed into a group of Israeli soldiers at a tourism site in east Jerusalem, killing four and injuring more than a dozen others, police said, in the deadliest attack in months. The driver was shot and killed by other soldiers at the scene.

The white flatbed truck rammed into the soldiers on Sunday after they stepped off a bus at a promenade in the city’s Armon Hanatziv section, police officials said. The area, which offers a panoramic view of Jerusalem’s Old City and the Mount of Olives, is in the eastern part of the city that Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman and said investigators found signs that the driver, Fadi al-Qanbar, 28, was a supporter of Islamic State. Netanyahu suggested there could be a link between terrorist attacks “from France to Berlin, and now Jerusalem.” 

The prime minister’s security cabinet met hours after the attack to discuss possible steps in response. Police blocked roads around the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebel Mukaber where the assailant lived and arrested at least nine people for questioning, five from his family, police said.

“There was no warning,” Police Chief Roni Alsheikh said in remarks broadcast on Israel Radio. “It didn’t take more than two or three seconds for him to find the target for the attack.” He identified the assailant as a Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem.

The militant Palestinian Hamas movement applauded the attack in an e-mailed statement without taking responsibility for it. “Israel won’t break our people’s determination to carry on the resistance,” said Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip and is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and European Union.

Read here for insight on the conflict over East Jerusalem

More than 40 people have been killed by Arabs in stabbing, shooting and car-ramming attacks in Israel and the West Bank over the past 15 months, according to the Foreign Ministry’s website. More than 200 Palestinians, most of them attackers, have been killed in the same period.

Israel says the violence has been driven by Palestinian incitement against it, while the Palestinians cite frustration with stalemated peace talks and a half a century of Israeli occupation.

The United Nations Security Council criticized Israel’s occupation of east Jerusalem and the West Bank last month in a resolution condemning the expansion of Jewish settlements throughout the territories. Jerusalem has long been a tinderbox in Middle East peace negotiations, with disputes focusing on the stewardship over holy sites in the Old City sacred to both Jews and Muslims.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas recently appealed to President-elect Donald Trump to pull back from his pledge to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, whose eastern sector Abbas said should be the capital of a future Palestinian state.