Terror Attacks in Jerusalem Leave Bystander Wounded

Visiting U.S. Vice President Joe Biden strongly condemns the attacks, but adds that they could not be stopped using force alone.

A scene of a shooting attack near Jerusalem's Damascus Gate, March 9, 2016.
A scene of a shooting attack near Jerusalem's Damascus Gate, March 9, 2016. Olivier Fitoussi

Two Palestinian gunmen who fired at an Israeli bus in Jerusalem on Wednesday morning were shot and killed by Israeli forces after a car chase over several miles. A bystander was seriously wounded in the shootout. There were no injuries on the bus.

Shortly after that incident, a 16-year-old male Palestinian was shot and killed after he tried to stab a soldier at an army position near the Palestinian village of Salfit.

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, who arrived in Israel on Tuesday for a two-day visit, strongly condemned the attacks but added that they could not be stopped using force alone.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency meeting of his top security and defense officials later Tuesday night, in wake of the three terror attacks that day in Israel, in which a visiting U.S. citizen was killed, two Border Police officers were wounded and at least a dozen additional people were injured.

The incident in Jerusalem on Wednesday began when passengers on a bus near the Ramot Junction spotted the two gunmen on the street and heard shots fired, said Israel Police spokeswoman Luba Samri. A motorist responded by shooting toward the suspects, who fled by car.

Police began searching for the gunmen’s vehicle. When a policeman approached a car that matched the description, the gunmen raised their weapons at the officer and he fired at them. Other police units on the scene shot at the suspects, killing them, Samri said. Police said two guns were found in their car.

The shootout took place on the street outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate.

The Palestinian bystander, who was shot in the head, was admitted to Hadassah University Hospital in serious but stable condition. Police are investigating whether the man, who was identified by the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency as Imad Abu Ali, 57, of the Old City, was shot by the gunmen or by police.

Palestinian reports identified the gunmen as Abdul-Malak Saleh Abu Kharoub,19, and Muhammad Jamal al-Kalouti, 21, from Kafr Aqeb, north of Jerusalem.

The attempted stabbing took place about one hour later. The would-be assailant was later identified as Ahmed Yusuf Aamar, from the nearby village of Mas’ha.

At a meeting with President Reuven Rivlin on Wednesday, Biden said the violence against Israel must stop, but added: “It cannot and will not be done just by physical force.”

In talks with Netanyahu in Jerusalem earlier, Biden condemned Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for failing to condemn the attacks in Jaffa. “Let me say in no uncertain terms the U.S. condemns these acts and condemns the failure to condemn them. This cannot become an accepted modus operandi,” Biden said at a joint press conference with Netanyahu.

“This cannot be viewed by civilized people as an appropriate way to behave. This is not tolerable in the 21st century. The U.S. stands firmly by Israel’s right to defend itself,” Biden also said.

Attendees of the Tuesday night consultation included Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich and representatives of the Israel Defense Forces and the Shin Bet security service.

The Prime Minister’s Office later announced several measures to keep unauthorized Palestinians out of Israel proper, including closing gaps in the separation barrier around Jerusalem, completing the barrier in the Tarqumiya area and sponsoring bills to punish anyone who provides shelter or transportation to Palestinians without Israeli permits.

It was also decided to close down Palestinian media outlets that engage in incitement, with professionals in the security establishment to decide which outlets would be shut down. Relatives of terrorists will also have a harder time getting permits to work or do business in Israel.