A truck ramming attack killed four Israeli soldiers and injured at least 16 others at a popular promenade in southern Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon.
Rescue workers at the scene said the truck suddenly accelerated towards a group of soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces after they had got off a bus at the Armon Hanatziv Promenade.
“Several buses loaded with soldiers were stopping here today. This is a very popular point for tourists, as well as a very popular point for new soldiers to come here to learn about the country, learn about the land. Today, as the soldiers were exiting the bus, a truck that was situated behind rammed up next to the bus and began to injure soldiers,” said Dovi Meyer, a rescue worker.
Meyer said the rescue operation was difficult because many victims were left trapped under the truck. Some of the victims died as they were unable to receive treatment missed the prime time for first aid.
According to surveillance video footage from the promenade, soldiers at the scene did not fire their weapons until they had confirmed there was a threat to life.
Israeli police said the attacker, who was shot dead at the scene, was an Arab resident called Fadi al-Qanbar, who resided in East Jerusalem.
According to police, the 28-year-old attacker had spent several stints in Israeli prisons.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the Minister of Defense Avigdor Lieberman rushed to the site of the attack.
Netanyahu said the attack was similar to those carried out in Europe recently, adding that the driver was a follower of extremist groups.
So far, Israeli police have identified the incident as a “lone wolf” attack, saying it will not affect the overall security situation in Jerusalem.
“We’ve heightened security in and around Jerusalem in order to make sure there won’t be any further attacks. We are not talking about [adding] thousands (more police officers). We are talking about hundreds of police officers in and around the different areas,” said Micky Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesperson.
It was the first truck attack in Jerusalem in nearly ten years, breaking the calm situation in the recent winter months.
Local residents say they feel rather disturbed and angry following the incident.
“I wish that [it will come to] a finish, all this war, all this killing of people by cars, trucks, knives, weapons. They killed children, they killed moms, they killed fathers, they killed soldiers in their twenties. It’s crazy. We have to stop it,” said Benjamin, a local resident.
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