Four Israeli soldiers were murdered and at least 16 people were wounded, some seriously, when an Arab resident of eastern Jerusalem rammed his truck into pedestrians nearJerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv Promenade.
Armon Hanatziv, also known as East Talpiot, is located in southeastern Jerusalem, part of the eastern sections of Jerusalem declared “occupied Palestinian territory” by a United Nations Security Council resolution last month.
The promenade, a popular tourist site enjoyed for its spectacular views of Israel’s capital, is located about half a mile from the plot of land upon which the U.S. has been building a consulate that could serve as a future embassy if the current embassy is moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters at the scene of the attack: “We know the identity of the attacker. All signs point to the attacker being a supporter of the Islamic State.”
In Sunday’s vehicular terrorist attack, Fadi al-Qanbar, identified as resident of the Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber Arab neighborhood, rammed a truck into a group of soldiers who were exiting a bus at the promenade.
A video of the attack, obtained from security surveillance footage, shows the truck running over soldiers, then the vehicle spins around as the driver attempts to turn the truck around. He then runs over the group of soldiers a second time.
Watch the video below. WARNING: Graphic images.
“The terrorist came from the direction of Alar Street. He noticed a group of people coming off a bus that stopped along the promenade. As far as we know, he sped up and hit them,” said Jerusalem District Police spokeswoman Galit Ziv.
Qanbar was shot by a civilian tour guide and by soldiers at the scene. He immediately died of his wounds, police here said.
The IDF released the following video testimony from one of the soldiers who responded to the attack by shooting Qanbar:
IDF soldiers reportedly raided Qanbar’s home after the attack
Magen David Adom paramedics at the scene said that a number of soldiers were trapped underneath the truck after it stopped when Qanbar was killed.
An initial inquiry is focusing on reports that soldiers hesitated to initially shoot as Qanbar was perpetuating the attack.
A military trainer who shot and killed the terrorist speculated that the hesitation might have stemmed from the conviction in a military court last week of Elor Azaria, an inexperienced 19-year-old army combat medic who shot and killed a Palestinian terrorist in March after the terrorist stabbed an Israeli soldier and was lying on the ground supposedly neutralized after being shot.
Azaria had said that he heard someone shout that the terrorist might be wearing an explosive device and he claimed that he acted to protect nearby soldiers. That claim was rejected by the military court.
The military trainer, who would only identify himself as Eitan, told Israel’s Army Radio of the reported hesitation to show Qanbar:
…the soldiers who were on the scene were hesitant to shoot at the truck that slammed into the group of people. The fact that Elor Azaria was convicted of manslaughter for shooting a wounded terrorist was the reason for this hesitation, according to Eitan.
“There was hesitation to open fire. I have no doubt that this was a significant factor, because all they tell them recently is to be careful. It could be that a few minutes less of hesitation and the situation would have been better,” he added.
No terrorist group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Hamas’s so-called military wing, however, took to Facebook to praise the carnage as a “heroic” operation. Hamas spokesperson Hazaem Qassem wrote that “the continuous operations in the West Bank and Jerusalem prove that the Jerusalem Intifada is not an isolated event, but rather a decision by the Palestinian people to revolt until they attain their freedom and liberation from the Israeli occupation.”