Two Israelis were killed and several others were injured, when a Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem opened fire on passersby from his vehicle, next to Jerusalem’s police headquarters. The Palestinian assailant, who served five months in an Israeli prison in the past, and was supposed to start another prison sentence on the day of the attack, opened fire from his vehicle at people waiting at a tram stop before he managed to drive off in an apparent effort to flee the scene, when police forces chased the terrorist before shooting him dead.
“Israeli police units responded to shots that were fired by one terrorist in a vehicle near the police headquarters a short while ago. After the shots were fired one woman was injured near the police headquarters. The vehicle continued to travel in and around the nearby neighborhood of the police headquarters. Special patrol units on fast motorbikes responded to the call on the shots that were fired. The police officers responded and shot and killed the terrorist in a gun battle. / Heightened security continues in and around Jerusalem at the moment in order to prevent any further terrorist attacks from taking place,” Micky Rosenfeld, Israeli Police Spokesman.
The terror attack that is part of a wave of violence, which plagued Israel since October of last year, with Palestinian stabbing, car ramming and shooting attacks against Israelis, has yet again raised the level of tension during the fragile period of the Jewish high holidays. Israel’s police chief, who visited the location of the incident, said he wasn’t surprised by the attack that seeks to demoralize the people of Israel during the holidays, while stressing that the Israeli security forces are heavily deployed in Jerusalem to thwart any future attempts to disrupt the fragile peace.
“This is a serious terrorist attack. Obviously, when it’s a shooting attack, there are more casualties than in other attacks. We are very heavily deployed in Jerusalem, in routine times and of course now during the (Jewish) holidays. It’s not surprising that there are attack attempts to break the peace of the holidays and to demoralize people,” said Roni Elsheikh, Israeli Police Chief.
Meanwhile in the Gaza Strip, the Islamist Hamas organization welcomed the attack as a continuation of the Palestinian ‘intifada’, the Arabic term for ‘uprising’, stressing that Israel’s efforts to end the violence will fail.
“The operation in Jerusalem is a natural reaction to the Israeli crimes against the rights of our Palestinian people and their holy places. It shows that the Intifada (uprising) is still going on and all attempts by the Israeli occupation to end the intifada will fail,” added Elsheikh.
Israeli security forces told TV7 that they consider yesterday’s terror attack as an irregular incident that is different from the string of lone-wolf attacks that plagued Israel during the past year, because of the fact that the attacker used an IDF firearm and it is yet unclear whether he committed the act of terror alone or through the directives of a terror organization, considering his vocal support and allegiance on social media to Hamas.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during his weekly cabinet meeting, wished the people wounded in the terror attack a speedy recovery, while praising the police forces that responded to the attack for what he defined as “their determined action.” “First, I would like to send wishes for recovery to the wounded, and to say, as it appears from the reports that we are receiving, that there was very quick and determined action here by Israeli police personnel who pursued the terrorist and eliminated him,” said Netanyahu.
The two victims of the terror attack are, 60 years-old Levana Malihi, a grandmother and former longtime employee of Israel’s parliament, the Knesset, who left behind her husband, three children and six grandchildren. And first Sergeant Yossi Kirma, a 29-years-old police officer who was killed during the exchange of fire with the Palestinian attacker. Hundreds of people attended the funeral of the victims, which took place in Jerusalem.