Three dead, dozens hurt in Jerusalem terror attack
Bulldozer driven by East Jerusalem Palestinian plows into bus, cars and pedestrians on Jaffa Street.
A Palestinian from East Jerusalem deliberately plowed a bulldozer he was driving into a passenger bus on Jaffa Street in the capital shortly after noon Wednesday, killing three people and wounding dozens more.
One of the fatalties in the attack was named as Elizabeth Goren-Friedman, 54, of Jerusalem. She had been driving her car at the scene of the attack, and was crushed by the oncoming bulldozer. She will be laid to rest at 10:30 P.M. on Wednesday at the Givat Shaul cemetery.
The second woman killed was named as Bat-Sheva Unterman, 33. The name of the third fatality has not yet been released.
Police shot and killed the driver of the bulldozer, who held an Israeli identification card, and who had a criminal record.
Footage of the attack shows the policeman and an off-duty soldier climb up to the cab of the moving bulldozer, reach in through the window and shoot the driver dead.
Rescue workers surveying the scene of the attack. (Reuters)
A preliminary investigation showed that the bulldozer left a nearby construction site, drove against the direction of traffic on Jaffa Street, hitting the Egged bus, which turned over, along with other vehicles and pedestrians along the way. The attack took place near the old Central Bus Station and the headquarters of the Israel Broadcasting Authority.
Magen David Adom rescue services said that a total of 22 people were taken to Jerusalem hospitals, including two in serious condition. Four were moderately wounded and another 16 were lightly hurt.
The wounded included two babies whose parents could not be located.The mother of one of the babies hurled the child out of the car window before being struck and wounded by the bulldozer. The mother of the other baby was killed in the rampage. Social workers appeared on TV frantically searching for the father.
The attack set off a panic in downtown Jerusalem, when a state of emergency was declared. Dozens of people were seen running through the streets to flee the scene of the attack, where wounded people lay on the ground amid piles of broken glass and blood stains.
"I saw the tractor's shovel turn to the bus and deliberately hit it. It hit other vehicles as well," an Israel Radio reporter said.
Emergency vehicles rushed to the scene, where the single-decker commuter bus, its side slashed by the tractor, lay on its side. The Toyota driven by the woman killed in the attack was reportedly flattened.
At least three other vehicles appeared to sustain damage, including a van whose entire front section was crushed.
The incident marked was the first terror attack in Jerusalem since a gunman killed eight students in a religious school in March. The attack came nearly two weeks into a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
The attack occurred in an area where Jerusalem is building a new train system. The project has turned many parts of the city into a major construction zone.
In contrast to West Bank Palestinians, Arab residents of Jerusalem have full freedom to work and travel throughout Israel. Many Jerusalem Arabs work in the construction industry.
City Hall spokesman Gidi Schmerling said all East Jerusalem residents who work in construction for the city must pass a police screening. He claimed Dwayat worked for a private construction firm. The contractor who employed him could not be reached for comment.
About two-thirds of Jerusalem's 700,000 residents are Jews, and the rest are Palestinians who came under Israeli control when Israel captured th eastern part of the city in 1967.
The three organizations that took responsibility for the attack included the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, which is loosely affiliated with Abbas' Fatah movement. The other two are the Galilee Freedom Battalion, which is suspected of being affiliated with Lebanon's Hezbollah guerrillas, and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a fringe militant group.
Jerusalem has been the target of dozens of deadly terror attacks over the past decade, most recently in March of this year, when a gunman entered a religious seminary and shot dead eight students before he was killed by police.
'I fired at him twice'
Policeman Eli Mizrahi said he was at the Mahane Yehuda open-air market when he heard over his radio that the bulldozer was rumbling in his direction.
Speeding to the scene on his motorcycle, Mizrahi arrived just after a policewoman shot the Palestinian driving the vehicle. But then, unexpectedly, the attacker stepped on the gas pedal once more and ran over a police car, Mizrahi said.
"He started to drive like crazy and held the steering wheel, pressing against it, and started to race down the street," Mizrahi told reporters at the scene.
While the construction machine was moving, Mizrahi and the off-duty soldier climbed up to the driver's cab. The soldier fired first, and then Mizrahi shot the driver twice.
"I ran up the steps and, while he was still driving like crazy and trying to harm civilians, I fired at him twice more and that's it, he was neutralized," Mizrahi said, speaking calmly to a swarm of reporters.
The soldier said he had been riding his bike through downtown Jerusalem en route home when he noticed the bulldozer plowing into the bus.
"I understood imemdiately that this was a terror attack. I threw down my bank and hurried to make contact with the terrorist," the soldier said. "I got closer to the bulldozer, the whole time looking for my weapon to shoot him. I noticed Oron Ben Shimon, an armed civilian, and together we tried to neutralize the terrorist. We tried at least to pull his feet off the accelerator."
"The terrorist yelled, 'God is great.' I grabbed Oron's handgun and fired three bullets. As soon as I was sure he was dead I lifted the gun so as not to hurt passersby," he added.
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(Please note that some of the images in these videos are of a graphic nature)