Palestinian driver ploughs into soldiers gathered at a promenade overlooking the Old City, killing four and injuring a dozen
Four Israeli soldiers, three of them cadets, were killed in Jerusalem on Sunday when a Palestinian attacker driving a truck ploughed into them deliberately, injuring more than a dozen more. The attack, the deadliest in months, comes after a lull in recent violence between Palestinians and Israelis.
It comes at a time of warnings about growing tensions, not least over Donald Trump’s highly controversial plan to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, and calls from some rightwing Israeli ministers to annex parts of the occupied Palestinian territories. Police said the dead, three women and a man, were all in their twenties, . Among the wounded three were described as in a serious condition.
The attack took place as a large group of Israeli soldiers visited a scenic outlook overlooking modern Jerusalem and the Old City, a few blocks from the current US consulate. The Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said: “We in Jerusalem have just experienced an unprovoked terrorist attack, a murderous attack that claimed the lives of four young Israelis and wounded others. This is part of the same pattern inspired by Islamic State, by Isis, that we saw first in France, then in Germany and now in Jerusalem.”
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, and Palestinians with no known links to Isis have carried out ramming attacks in the past. Palestinian media identified the attacker as Fadi al-Qanbar, a married man in his 20s, who had reportedly previously served time in an Israeli prison. Israeli police said the driver was from Jabel Mukaber, an area of Israeli-occupied east Jerusalem not far from the scene of the attack. Some media reports suggested Israeli licence plates on the vehicle meant it had been stolen.
The driver was shot dead by other soldiers and a tour guide with the group that was hit as the driver reversed back towards the dead and injured. Graphic security camera footage shot from a distance showed the truck racing towards a group of soldiers standing by their bus and then driving through the group, scattering bodies. After a gap of a few seconds the truck is seen reversing into them again. “In a fraction of a second during which I was speaking with one of the officers, I saw the truck plowing into us,” the guide, Eitan Rod, told Israel Army Radio.
“After a few rolls on the grass I saw the truck start to reverse and then I already understood that this was not an accident. I felt that my pistol was still on me, so I ran up to him and started emptying my clip. He went in reverse and again drove over the injured.” As emergency workers removed the bodies from the scene, dozens of other young soldiers, some visibly shaken, were gathered on a park terrace where officers, paramedics and a military rabbi comforted them.