Tuesday, Sep 26, 2023

Israel: 2 Killed, 5 Injured In Car Attack In Jerusalem, Suspect Shot Dead, Read All About Vehicular Terror Attacks

Israel: 2 Killed, 5 Injured In Car Attack In Jerusalem, Suspect Shot Dead, Read All About Vehicular Terror Attacks

The Friday's car attack in Jerusalem comes within weeks of shooting attacks in Jerusalem in which seven were killed and several were injured. Casualties have lately mounted in Palestinian attacks and Israeli raids.

Israeli security personnel at the site of attack
Israeli security personnel at the site of attack Twitter/Israel Police

In the latest attack in Israel, two were killed and five were injured in Jerusalem on Friday when a driver rammed his car into people at a bus stop. 

The driver was shot dead by a police officer. He was identified as 31-year-old Hussein Qaraqe. The Israel Police declared the incident as an act of terror. 

The Jerusalem car attack is the latest attack inside Israel in recent past. It closely follows two shootings in Jerusalem in which seven were killed and several were injured. On January 27, seven Israelis were killed in a shooting at a Jewish synagogue in Jerusalem. Another shooting in Jerusalem the next day injured two. In November, Jerusalem was rocked by twin blasts that killed one and injured over 20. 

One of the two killed in Friday's attack was a six-year-old boy. The other was a 20-year-old man who had got married only recently.

What we know of the attack?

The attack occured at around 1:27 pm on Friday in East Jerusalem's Ramot neighbourhood.

The Israel Police tweeted, "Around 13:27 a car driver was speeding towards the Golda Meir-Mintz intersection at the exit from the Ramot neighborhood in the direction of Givat Ze'ev, and rammed innocent people who were waiting at the bus station. 

"As a result, two people were murdered and another five injured in different degrees of injury (according to medical officials), among them critically injured. 

"Police forces of the Jerusalem District, including a detective who was off duty, arrived quickly at the scene, and fired at the terrorist who was neutralized on the spot."

The attacker's social media activity showed anti-Israel posts and praise of Palestinian terrorist groups such as Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ).

The Times of Israel reports, "Qaraqa’s Facebook page included posts hailing attacks against Israeli soldiers and civilians. In a post last August, Qaraqa hailed the leader of Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad Nakhaleh. In a more recent post last December, Qaraqaa memorialized the members of the northern West Bank’s Lions Den after several were killed in an IDF operation. Lions Den has been responsible for numerous shooting attacks beyond the Green Line over the past year."

The Lions Den is a Palestinian terrorist group. It has attacked both the Israeli military and civilians in West Bank.

Reports also described attacker Qaraqa as mentally ill and said he was recently discharged from a mental facility.

The PIJ is the second-largest Palestinian terrorist group after Hamas that controls Gaza Strip. 

What are vehicular terror attacks?

Car attacks are an established medium of terrorist attacks and have long been used by terrorist groups like ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Hamas. Some well known car attacks are 2016 Nice truck attack in which 86 were killed, 2016 Berlin truck attack in which 16 were killed, and 2017 Barcelona attacks in which 13 were killed. 

The think tank Counter Extremism Project (CEP) says the 2016 Nice attack launched a wave of vehicular terrorist attacks around the world. It also says that Hamas is among the terrorist groups engaging in vehicular terrorist attacks. 

The CEP says, "Terrorist groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Hamas have long called for—and claimed responsibility for—vehicular terrorist attacks...Following the wave of vehicular terrorist attacks in 2016 and 2017, ISIS has continued to issue calls to violence and warnings of additional car-ramming attacks."

The CEP notes that Israel has particularly faced the brunt of car attacks. 

The CEP says, "A slew of car-ramming attacks have also been carried out by Palestinian assailants in Israel and the West Bank. In November of 2014, Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist groups—including the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—praised a wave of vehicular attacks and called for more. One such image posted online read, 'Run [them] over, son of Hebron...and son of Jerusalem. Take your car...and run over the Zionists'."

Both Hamas and PIJ are committed to the establishment of a singular Palestinian state and the destruction of Israel. 

Israeli response to latest attack

Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the attacker "a despicable terrorist" in his remarks on the incident.

He said, "Just before Shabbat, our hearts are pained by the terrible news of a despicable terrorist who took the lives of a little boy and a young man in a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem. Together with the People of Israel I grieve with the families and pray for the recovery of the injured."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu directed units to be reinforced in the area and “investigations and arrests be carried out immediately in the terrorist's circle”, a statement by the Prime Minister's Office said. It added that Netanyahu also took immediate action to seal and demolish the terrorist's house.

Rising Israeli-Palestinian tensions

The Friday's attack is the latest in the long line of violent incidents rocking Israel and Palestinian territories in recent past. 

Casualties have mounted in Palestinian attacks in Israel and in Israeli raids in Palestinian territories recently. The year 2022 was the worst in terms of violence in over a decade. Around 150 Palestinians were killed in clashes and dozens of Israelis were killed in Palestinian attacks. With the coming of Israel's most hardline government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, there are fears that the escalation may continue to have an upward trajectory. 

The synagogue shooting in which seven Israelies were killed came amid frequent Israeli raids in West Bank in which several Palaestinians have been killed in recent weeks. Just a day before the shooting, 10 Palestinains were killed in an Israeli raid in Jenin in West Bank. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said the Israeli personnel came under fire during a "counterterrorism operation to apprehend an Islamic Jihad terror squad" and shot several enemy combatants. 

(With AP inputs)


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