Truck attack in Jerusalem kills four Israeli soldiers
A man driving a truck plowed into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem on Sunday, killing at least four and leaving more than a dozen wounded in what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an “unprovoked terrorist attack.” Although no group had claimed responsibility, Netanyahu is pointing a finger at the Islamic State group.
If he turns out to be correct, Sunday would mark the second time ISIS has inspired an attack in Israel.
Three women and one man, all in their 20s, were reportedly killed. The attack took place as a group of soldiers were touring the Armon Hanatziv promenade, an observation post in a disputed neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Graphic footage shows a speeding truck driving into a crowd of soldiers as they get off a bus, sending people flying through the air.
The truck then backs up in an attempt to run over more people.
“I saw the truck plowing into us,” Eitan Rod, the group’s guide, 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.”
The driver, who was killed by gunfire, was identified by Palestinian news outlet Al-Manar as Fadi al-Qanbar, a married Palestinian man in his 20s who had served time in an Israeli prison.
Netanyahu said in his remarks that the incident bore the hallmarks of other recent Islamic State–inspired attacks that utilized trucks. “We know the identity of the attacker,” he said. “All signs point to the attacker being a supporter of the Islamic State.”
As the group has lost its grip on territory in Iraq and Syria, it has encouraged supporters to carry out attacks on civilians in the West with heavy vehicles. A Bastille Day attack in Nice, France, last summer left more than 80 dead, and an attack on a Christmas market in Berlin killed more than a dozen last month.
In November, Israeli Defense Forces said they killed four militants linked to IS after they attacked Israeli soldiers with a machine gun mounted atop a vehicle in the Golan Heights.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms today’s horrific vehicular attack by a terrorist in Jerusalem,” U.S. State Department spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement. “We condemn the glorification of terrorism now or at any time and call on all to send a clear message that terrorism must never be tolerated.”
Rising tensions in Israel and Palestine claimed several lives last year. According to the AP, Palestinian attackers killed 36 Israelis and two Americans, while 229 Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces.