'Isil supporter' kills Israeli troops with truck
The Palestinian man who killed four Israeli soldiers in a truck attack in Jerusalem appears to have been a supporter of Isil, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said yesterday.
The 28-year-old Palestinian ploughed his lorry into a group of soldiers and then reversed over the injured troops, crushing them a second time, before he was shot dead.
Three female soldiers and one male soldier, all in their twenties, were killed and 13 others were injured.
"We know the identity of the attacker, according to all the signs he is a supporter of Islamic State," Mr Netanyahu said as he visited the scene of the attack.
He compared it to similar deadly attacks with lorries in Berlin and Nice but gave no evidence to support his claim that the attacker was an Isil supporter. Isil has not claimed credit for the killing.
Palestinian media identified the attacker as Fadi al-Qanbar, from the nearby Jabel Mukabar neighbourhood in east Jerusalem. There were reports that he had served time in an Israeli prison.
While Isil occasionally makes threats against Israel, actual attacks by Isil supporters against Israelis are extremely rare.
Most of the young Palestinians who have carried out attacks against Israeli troops or civilians in the past year have been 'lone wolf' assailants who are not part of any organised faction.
The only known instance of an Isil-inspired attack was in January 2016, when a Palestinian man killed four Israelis in a pub in Tel Aviv. Israel's security services said the gunman was a follower of Isil but also appeared to have mental health issues.
The latest attack was praised by Hamas, the Islamist militant group that rules the Gaza strip, and by factions in Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. It was the most serious attack in Jerusalem since a suicide bomber blew up a bus in April last year and it sparked fears of a fresh surge in violence.
Since September 2015, Palestinian attackers have killed 40 Israelis and two visiting Americans. Israeli forces have killed 229 Palestinians during the same period.
Israel says most of the Palestinians were killed while trying to attack Israeli soldiers or civilians.
Yesterday's soldier victims were taking part in a cultural programme that the Israeli military puts on for its conscript troops and were visiting the Armon HaNatziv promenade, which looks out over Jerusalem's Old City.
Security footage shows the truck ploughing into the group of soldiers. The driver tried to turn the truck around but when he was unable to, he reversed back over the injured. He was shot dead by soldiers and armed civilians.
"There was no sense in that reverse," Leah Schreiber, a witness, told reporters. "He drove backward to crush more people. That was really clear."
The attack matched the deadliest in a more than year-long wave of Palestinian shooting, stabbing and vehicular attacks against Israelis that had slowed of late.
Israel said the violence was driven by a Palestinian campaign of incitement, while Palestinians said it was the result of nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation and dwindling hopes for an independent state.
Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanou called it a "heroic" act and encouraged other Palestinians to do the same and "escalate the resistance".
He said the attack proved the wave of Palestinian violence had not ended, despite a recent lull. "It may be quiet, it may linger, but it will never end," he said. (© Daily Telegraph London)