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4 Israeli soldiers dead in truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem

Officials examine the scene after a truck rammed into Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem on 8 January 2017 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]
Officials examine the scene after a truck rammed into Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem on 8 January 2017 [Stringer/Anadolu Agency]

A Palestinian rammed his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers on a popular promenade in Jerusalem yesterday, killing four of them.

It was the deadliest Palestinian attack in Jerusalem in months and targeted officer cadets as they disembarked from a bus that brought them to the Armon Hanatziv promenade, which has a panoramic view of the walled Old City.

The military said a female officer and three officer cadets were killed and that 17 others were injured. Police said three of the dead were women.

Police identified the truck driver as a Palestinian from Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem and said he was shot dead. His uncle, Abu Ali, named him as Fadi Ahmad Hamdan Qunbor, 28, a father of four from the Jabel Mukabar neighbourhood.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that nine Jabel Mukabar residents, including five members of the attacker's family, were arrested on suspicion of aiding the attacker.

The Israeli military regularly takes soldiers on educational tours of Jerusalem, including the Armon Hanatziv vantage point.

Prime Minister Netanyahu visited the scene and convened his security Cabinet, a forum of senior ministers, to discuss Israel's response. He said that security forces were controlling access in and out of the neighbourhood.

"We know the identity of the attacker. According to all the signs he is a supporter of Islamic State," the prime minister said, referring to Daesh.

A government source said ministers had called for the demolition of the attacker's home and for his body not to be returned to the family for burial. It also decided to detain without trial persons expressing sympathy for Daesh.

The United States condemned the attack "in the strongest terms" and offered to help Israel work to determine who was behind the attack, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said in a statement that also expressed condolences for the victims.

Roni Alsheich, the national police chief, told reporters he could not rule out that the driver had been motivated by a truck-ramming attack in a Berlin Christmas market that killed 12 people last month.

"It is difficult to get into the head of every individual to determine what prompted him, but there is no doubt that these things do have an effect," Alsheich told reporters.

In another attack claimed by Daesh and involving a truck driven into a crowd, nearly 90 people were killed in the French city of Nice in July.

International condemnation

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, sent his condolences to the families while condemning the attack and those praising it.

"It is reprehensible that some choose to glorify such acts which undermine the possibility of a peaceful future for both Palestinians and Israelis," Mladenov said in a statement.

Security camera footage showed the truck racing towards the soldiers and then reversing into them.

A security guard identified only as "A" told Channel 10 how he shot at the truck and its driver.

"I shot at a tyre but realised there was no point as he has many wheels, so I ran in front of the cabin and at an angle, I shot at him and emptied my magazine," he said.

"When I finished shooting, some of the officer cadets also took aim and also started firing."

The footage showed many of the soldiers fleeing the scene as the attack took place, their rifles slung on their shoulders.

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