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Policeman Killed in New Jerusalem Car Attack

Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:56 AM

A Palestinian slammed his car into pedestrians in Jerusalem on Wednesday, killing a border policeman and wounding nine other people in the second such attack in recent weeks.

The rampage followed violent clashes at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound earlier in the day involving police and stone-throwers.

Police described the car incident, which took place on the seam line between west Jerusalem and the city's annexed Arab east, as a "hit and run terror attack."

The driver, whom police identified as a Palestinian from Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem, hit two groups of pedestrians before getting out of the vehicle and attacking passers-by with an iron bar.

He was then shot dead by police out on patrol in the area.

The attack mirrored an incident on the same road on October 23 when a Palestinian rammed his car into a group of pedestrians, killing a young woman and a baby.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the driver had first struck a group of policemen Wednesday who were crossing the road near border police headquarters, before continuing south and hitting a group of pedestrians waiting at the Shimon HaTsadik light rail station.

After the car came to a halt, the driver, who had sustained injuries during his rampage, "got out of the vehicle and started to hit people with an iron bar," she said.

Emergency services spokesman Zaki Heller said two of the wounded were in very serious conditions.

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat urged the government to act with a firm hand against anyone seeking to terrorise the city through "terror or rioting".

He was referring to persistent unrest which has gripped the city's east for the past four months.

"The only answer is to get the city back to normal and continue our daily lives because that sends a message to these terrorists: We are here and we will not leave," he said.



The attack was hailed by the Islamist Hamas movement, which described the attacker, 38-year-old Ibrahim al-Akari, as a "hero" whose actions were a "natural response" to Israel's actions at the Al-Aqsa compound.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lashed out at Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas, accusing him of encouraging such attacks by sending condolences to the family of a Palestinian who was shot dead by police last week over the attempted assassination of a rightwing Jewish activist.

"The hit-and-run attack in Jerusalem is a direct consequence of Abu Mazen's (Abbas's) incitement and that of his partners in Hamas. We are in an ongoing battle for Jerusalem, which I have no doubt we shall win," he said.

Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch praised the actions of the policeman who shot the driver.

"A terrorist who harms civilians should be killed," he said in remarks broadcast on television and radio, saying he would recommend that anyone behind such attacks should have his home "destroyed."

Shortly after the attack, clashes broke out in both Shuafat refugee camp and Issawiya, also in east Jerusalem, an AFP correspondent reported.

The city had been on edge since the morning following heavy clashes between police and stone-throwers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound ahead of a visit by a group of Jewish extremists.

The clashes prompted a furious response from Jordan, which has custodial rights over Muslim holy sites in Jerusalem, with Amman recalling its ambassador to Israel "in protest at Israel's escalation on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound."

The compound, which is holy to both Jews and Muslims, is one of the most sensitive sites in the Middle East.

"Dozens of masked protesters threw stones and firecrackers at security forces who then entered the Temple Mount and pushed the demonstrators inside the (Al-Aqsa) mosque," police spokeswoman Luba Samri said, using the Israeli term for the compound.

In a bid to quell the disturbances, police entered "several metres (yards)" inside the mosque to remove blockages set up by the protesters in order to lock them inside, she said.

Although it was an "extremely rare" move, Samri said it was not the first time.

Amin Abu Ghazali of the Palestinian Red Crescent told AFP that 39 people were wounded, six of whom were in serious conditions.

The compound was later reopened to visitors with around 108 Israeli Jews entering alongside 200 foreign tourists, police said.

Although Jews are permitted to visit the plaza, they are not allowed to pray for fear it could stoke tensions at the site, which is the third holiest shrine in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.


© AFP 2019

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Wednesday, 05 November 2014 10:56 AM
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