1 Dead, Over 10 Wounded in 2nd Terror Ramming Attack in Jerusalem; Hamas Claims Responsibility (VIDEO)
An Arab driving a van killed one person and wounded some 14 others, several critically, when he slammed into pedestrians and vehicles at two points along the capital’s light rail line midday Wednesday, according to Army radio.
The fatality, Cap. Jidan Assad, 38, a Border Police officer from the Druze village of Beit Jaan, and the wounded were crossing the street when they were hit by the speeding vehicle, according to police.
Assad is survived by a pregnant wife and three-year-old son, according to Ynet News.
At one point, footage from a light rail security camera shows the white Volkswagen van hitting pedestrians as it rushed down the tracks (see video below).
The driver then descended from his vehicle, several blocks north of the Old City, and attacked passersby with a metal rod, police said.
Border Police officers in the vicinity gave chase along the rail line, and opened fire at the suspect, killing him, police said.
The driver was wearing clothing similar to those worn by a haredi Jew, Army radio reported.
Palestinian sources said the brother of the suspect was part of the Hamas cell that murdered Border Policeman St.-Sgt. Nissim Toledano in Lod in 1992. After serving time in an Israeli prison, he was released in the Shalit deal with Hamas in 2011, according to Israel’s Ch. 2 News.
The brother was deported and is presently residing in Turkey.
Hamas took responsibility for the attack and called for perpetrating more such attacks. Islamic Jihad called it “heroic.”
The attack was similar to a ramming attack on October 22, in the same vicinity, in which an infant and a young woman were killed and close to 10 others wounded.
The area, commonly referred to as the “seam line,” divides the city’s Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. There are several hotels along the route, which passes near the Old City’s Damascus Gate.
“This is a hard day for Jerusalem,” Mayor Nir Barkat said in a statement.
“On behalf of the residents of the city, I convey my deepest condolences to the family of the victim murdered in the terror attack and I wish those who were injured a quick recovery.
“I have an important message for the city’s residents: the goal of the terrorists is to disrupt our lives and to hurt and scare us. We answer them by showing that we continue with our normal, daily routine. This is the message we will send the terrorists. We are here to stay. We will not budge. We will overcome the challenges and win this battle,” Barkat said, adding, “We will enforce a tougher policy, and win this war.”
Economy Minister, Naftali Bennett on his Facebook page, derided Palestinian Authority President, Mahmoud Abbas, as being “the driver of the deadly cars in Jerusalem. The terrorists are just his messengers.”
President Reuven Rivlin said in a Tweet that “There can be no forgiveness for those who turn cars into weapons to attack innocent people.”
Paula Stern, 53, a long-time American immigrant, makes a daily commute on the light rail past where the last two terror attacks, and innumerable Arab stoning incidents, have taken place.
She said nearly all of the rolling stock has smashed windows and dents from the rocks, and noted that security on and along the line was heavy in the wake of the terror attack.
“The guards are more alert than normal; there are blue lights of police cars all over,” she said, as the train sped along the route. “The train’s going a lot faster today than normal,” she noted. “It’s amazing how fast he’s going.”
Living in Ma’ale Adumin, east of the city, for the last 13 years, Stern pointed out that the train serves the capital’s Arab, as well as Jewish, residents. She wants the city to close off the line, which runs through Arab neighborhoods, as a punishment and deterrent to potential attackers.
Stern hopes the municipality would consider building a second line, one that avoids the current route, which traverses Arab Shuafat and Bet Hanina, on the way to the city’s northernmost Jewish neighborhoods.
“I’m sorry – if you’re going to attack a train, we’re going to have to stop it for now; for whatever period of time, the train’s not going through Shuafat. If they burn the tracks again, that line can be abandoned,” she said, referring to months and millions of dollars of nationalistic vandalism by Palestinians against the very line which serves them.
She “is definitely going to continue” riding the line, and emphasized that she was not frightened by the attacks.
“The answer is no; I’m not afraid. I think that, despite the fact that there are attacks now daily…” noting that the cars’ windows have rock-resistant safety glass, and were designed to weather malicious vandalism.
“The city has to do something,” she contended. “I don’t see rewarding a neighborhood that throws rocks all the time on the train, and now someone from the neighborhood came and killed people.
“I don’t see the logic of the train continuing to go through there. I really don’t,” she concluded, as the train sped along and police sirens wailed in the background.
Watch light rail security camera footage of the beginning of the attack:
[iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/aTx5oFIW0bA” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>]
Watch traffic camera footage of end of the the attacker’s path of carnage:
[iframe width=”640″ height=”360″ src=”//www.youtube.com/embed/akYT8v4gjEM” frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen>]
This report will be updated as more details are confirmed.