Four mowed down by truck in Jerusalem, Netanyahu says accused IS supporter

Jerusalem, Jan 8 (IANS) Four people were killed and 13 others injured here on Sunday when a truck ploughed into pedestrians in a busy shopping area.

Xinhua news agency quoted Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri as saying that the incident — which took place in Armon Hanatziv, a popular promenade that overlooks East Jerusalem’s Old City — was a “terrorist attack”, although the investigation has yet to be concluded. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu however said the perpetrator of the attack was an apparent adherent of the Islamic State.

Palestinian media identified the perpetrator as Fadi al-Qanbar from East Jerusalem’s Jabel Mukaber neighbourhood.

At noon, the assailant drove his truck into pedestrians, killing four soldiers, three of them women, and wounding 15 more, Samri said.

Israel’s Channel 2 TV news broadcast security camera footage showing the truck driving at high speed off the road and ploughing into the crowd. The truck is seen reversing quickly, apparently attempting to drive over more people, before the driver was shot dead by soldiers.

Addressing a press conference at the site, Netanyahu said: “We know the identity of the attacker, and all signs suggest that he was an Islamic State supporter.”

“This is part of the same pattern inspired by Islamic State that we saw first in France, then in Germany and now in Jerusalem,” he said.

“This is part of the same ongoing battle against this global scourge of the new terrorism,” he said, calling for a global action against these attacks.

Israeli security forces took several “punitive measures”, including closing all the exits and entries of Jabel Mukaber.

Interior Security Minister Gilad Erdan said Israel will not transfer the body of the attacker to his family. Israel has been withholding bodies of dozens of attackers and suspects as a measure the authorities say aims to “deter” more attacks.

The attack was one of the deadliest amidst a more than year-long wave of violence. Last June, two gunmen killed four persons at a trendy recreation compound in Tel Aviv.

An ongoing wave of violence in the West Bank and Israel has claimed the lives of at least 235 Palestinians and 34 Israelis since September 2015.

Israeli leaders accuse the Palestinian National Authority of “inciting” the unrest, while the Palestinians say it is the result of nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, home to more than five million Palestinians, where they wish to establish their state.

–IANS

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