MIDDLE EAST

Palestinian driver injures 5 Israelis in car attack

'There needs to be a death penalty for terrorists,' says Israeli foreign minister after car attack

A Palestinian driver plowed into a group of people in Jerusalem on Friday, injuring five in what police are calling a terror attack.

According to Israeli police, the incident occurred when the driver swerved onto the sidewalk by the border police headquarters in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarah, hitting four servicewomen and a civilian. They sustained light to moderate injuries.

A border policeman and civilian security guard posted at the base entrance fired on the car and wounded the driver as he emerged wielding a butcher’s knife, police said.

The Palestinian was not immediately named but was reported to be a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras Amoud. He was taken to a Jerusalem hospital in serious condition, officials said.

Jerusalem police commander Moshe Edri praised the guards’ response, which he said “stopped the terror attack from continuing to hit innocent civilians.” Edri told reporters that police were deployed in large numbers throughout Jerusalem to enable festivities of the Purim holiday to continue safely.

“We will fight terror without compromise,” said Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who recently helped subdue a young Palestinian who stabbed a religious Jew not far from Barkat’s city hall office.

Friday’s incident was reminiscent of a series of attacks that took place in Jerusalem in late 2014 and claimed multiple fatalities, several in the same area between East and West Jerusalem.

Though the violent eruption of months ago appears to have dissipated, tensions between Israelis and Palestinians continue to simmer, with occasional attacks from both sides.

Less than two weeks ahead of Israeli elections, Friday's incident drew strong statements from hawkish Israeli politicians. “There needs to be a death penalty for terrorists,” said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has made that proposal part of his campaign.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett said the attack proved that “talk of territorial concessions lends a tailwind to terror.”

Bennett was nodding to Israeli media reports Friday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu potentially agreed to a series of concessions that contradict his publicly declared positions, including an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and a possible compromise regarding Jerusalem.  

Netanyahu’s office denied the report and said that “at no point” did the prime minister agree to withdraw to the nation’s boundaries as they existed before the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, divide Jerusalem or recognize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to Israel.

The Palestinian militant movement Hamas called Friday’s attack a “heroic” act and a “natural reaction” to Israeli crimes and extremist government.

Sobelman is a special correspondent.

 

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

3:19 a.m.: This article has been updated with additional details and background.

1:46 a.m.: This article has been updated with additional details of the incident.

This article was originally posted at 12:57 a.m.

82°