Terrorist in Car Rams 19 in J'lem

Nineteen people, most of them Israel Defense Forces soldiers, were wounded in a terrorist attack in downtown Jerusalem last night, when a Palestinian driving a black BMW drove up on the sidewalk and ran over a group of soldiers.

The attack took place at Tzahal (IDF) Square, at the corner of Shivtei Yisrael St. Two of the victims were seriously injured.

The driver was killed by an officer of the stricken platoon. He realized it was a terror attack and shot the attacker after the car had stopped. A previously unknown group claimed responsibility for the attack, which was perpetrated by an Arab resident of East Jerusalem.

After the driver was killed, police sappers and rescue workers checked to make sure the car was not booby-trapped and that it contained no weapons or explosives.

"A man in a vehicle struck a number of people in Tzahal Square," police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. "We can confirm it was a terror attack. The man was shot and killed."

The emergency call came into the Magen David Adom ambulance service at 10:55 P.M., but it described the incident as traffic accident. Only when the ambulance arrived did it become clear that it was a terrorist attack.

"I saw the car coming quickly and hit a group of soldiers and students standing there," an eyewitness said. "It happened very fast. It was impossible to know beforehand that this is what he intended to do."

Israel Radio said the soldiers, from the Artillery Corps, were on a tour of Jerusalem ahead of next week's Rosh Hashanah holiday.

This is the third time in the past few months that a terror attack has been committed in Jerusalem using a vehicle as a weapon. The last two, which together killed three and wounded over 100, employed bulldozers.

Yesterday's attack took place not far from the Old City walls. Thousands have passed through that area every night in recent days on their way to prayers at the Western Wall.

After the attack, thousands of ultra-Orthodox residents of nearby neighborhoods came to the site to protest. Mounted police drove them away.

The injured were taken to various Jerusalem hospitals.