At least three Israelis were killed and several dozen injured when a Palestinian worker deliberately smashed a giant bulldozer into cars and buses on one of Jerusalem’s busiest streets on Wednesday, squashing both people and vehicles beneath him.
The man, a worker on a nearby construction site, was shot dead by a police officer as he drove the machine towards Jerusalem’s main market. Israeli officials and a police spokesman described the man as a ”terrorist”, and three Palestinian militant groups claimed responsibility for the attack.
However, the groups’ claims could not be verified, and Dudi Cohen, the police commissioner, described the attack as a ”spontaneous” act. The perpetrator was identified as a man from Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinians living in the city’s eastern neighbourhoods are free to travel and work inside Israel, unlike their counterparts in the West Bank and Gaza.
According to several eyewitnesses at the site, the bulldozer slammed into a public bus several times before overturning it with its passengers still trapped inside. The attacker then careered into a silver Toyota, killing the female driver inside, before running over another car and flattening it into a block of twisted metal. As the bulldozer came to rest on top of his last victim, a police officer scrambled aboard the driver’s cabin and fired his gun at point-blank range several times.
”One car was able to get out of the way,” said Shai Rachmanov, who watched the scene from a coffee house a few metres from the site. ”But this one [the silver Toyota] was not able to get away and was crushed.”
The attack took place on Jaffa Road, one of the main shopping streets in West Jerusalem, just a few hundred metres from the city’s main food market. It marked the second lethal attack by a Palestinian from East Jerusalem this year, following the deadly shooting inside a Jewish religious school in March that claimed the lives of eight students and the attacker himself.
Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the Gaza Strip, said in a statement that it had nothing to do with Wednesday’s killings, but described the rampage as a ”natural reaction to the daily aggression and crimes committed against our people”.