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Tensions mount in Israel as 'ramming' driver shot dead

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Israeli police and security forces stand near the body of the driver shot dead by police in East Jerusalem. Photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli police and security forces stand near the body of the driver shot dead by police in East Jerusalem. Photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Israeli police and security forces stand near the body of the driver shot dead by police in East Jerusalem. Photo credit: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

A driver who rammed his car into a group of pedestrians waiting for a train in Jerusalem yesterday was shot dead.

Israeli police described the incident in east Jerusalem as an "intentional attack".

Military sources said that the car hit the train platform and then rammed into cars after which the driver jumped out and tried to run away. The officials said he then attacked a group of policemen with a crowbar before he was shot and killed. The attack came just over a week after a similar attack by a Palestinian motorist who drove into a train platform and killed a baby girl.

Increasing strife over Jerusalem's most volatile holy site has also plunged relations between Israel and Jordan into crisis, with Jordan recalling its ambassador for the first time since the countries' 1994 peace treaty.

Yesterday's ramming occurred after fierce clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians at the entranceway to the 8th-century al-Aqsa mosque, Islam's third-most sacred place.

Palestinian officials said Israeli forces had crossed the threshold of the mosque for the first time since 1967. Israeli police denied going inside.

Just as Israel was grappling with the second deadly Palestinian attack in Jerusalem in two weeks - and the risk of a third Palestinian uprising - Jordan added a new dimension to the conflict by recalling its envoy.

The decision was taken "in protest at the increasing and unprecedented Israeli escalation in the Noble Sanctuary, and the repeated Israeli violations of Jerusalem", the Arab kingdom's official Petra news agency said.

It also said Jordan would lodge a complaint with the UN Security Council over Israeli actions in the city and at the compound known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, housing the al-Aqsa mosque and golden Dome of the Rock shrine.

Muslims believe the Prophet Mohammed rose to heaven from the 7th century Dome of the Rock. Jews revere the hilltop in Jerusalem's walled Old City as Temple Mount, Judaism's holiest place, where two Biblical temples once stood.

There was no immediate reaction from Israeli leaders to Jordan's dramatic step, a little over a week after Israel and Jordan marked the 20th anniversary of their peace treaty.

The Israelis had planned to visit the site to commemorate a week since a Palestinian shot and wounded American-Israeli activist Yehuda Glick, who has campaigned for more Jewish access to the location. Palestinians view such visits as a provocation and often respond violently.

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Several police officers were hurt in the clashes, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, adding that the police used stun grenades to disperse the Palestinians. Quiet was soon restored, he said.


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