Berlin Truck Attack: Israeli Seriously Wounded, Wife Remains Missing

The wounded Israeli is on a ventilator and under sedation after two operations. Twelve people died and 48 were injured as truck plows into crowd at Christmas market.

The truck that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin, December 20, 2016.
The truck that crashed into a Christmas market in Berlin, December 20, 2016. TOBIAS SCHWARZ/AFP

An Israeli citizen was seriously injured on Monday night in the truck attack at a western Berlin Christmas market, the Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The man's wife, who was with him at the time of the attack, is currently defined as missing and efforts are being made to locate her. The Israeli ambassador in Berlin said that the possibility that she was among those killed in the incident was not being discounted.

The embassy said that the wounded Israeli had undergone two surgeries overnight and was currently sedated and breathing on a ventilator. He suffered injuries to his limbs.

It added that the couple was vacationing in Berlin. The city's Chabad said that there were still no indications about what had happened to Dalia Elkayam.

The German daily newspaper Die Welt reported late on Tuesday that the local police are convinced that have arrested the wrong man in the hunt for the driver of the truck, A Pakistani man detained near the scene of the massacre in Berlin is not believed to be linked to the atrocity, meaning the attacker is still on the run.

Candles burn near the crime scene in Berlin, Germany, December 20, 2016, the day after a truck ran into a crowded Christmas market and killed several people.
Matthias Schrader/AP

"We have the wrong man," the newspaper quoted a Berlin police official as saying. "And therefore we have a new situation — that the real attacker is still at large and can do more harm.”

"Israel condemns what appears to be a terror attack in Germany." Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday, ""We send our condolences to the families of those killed and, of course, to the government of Germany, and we wish a speedy recovery to the injured, who include an Israeli citizen."

"Terror is breaking out everywhere and we need to defeat it. We can defeat it, but it will happen a lot faster if all the free countries that are under attack unite in defeating terror."

Twelve people were killed and 48 were injured after a truck plowed into a crowd in the German capital on Monday. German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said there was no doubt that the incident was an attack. Only a few victims have been identified, he added.

Berlin police said that investigators believe that the driver of the truck that crashed into the popular Christmas market at the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church did so intentionally.

"Our investigators assume that the truck was deliberately steered into the crowd at the Christmas market at Breitscheidplatz," police said on Twitter.

On Tuesday, German police special forces raided a hangar used as a refugee center at Berlin's defunct Tempelhof airport.

The Polish owner of the truck told media that man in the passenger seat, who was driving the truck from Gdansk to Berlin, was his cousin. Ariel Zurawki added that he doesn't believe it was his cousin who carried out the attack, and said it's possible that the truck was hijacked. He added that he has been unable to contact his cousin.

The man found dead in the passenger seat, a Polish national, had suffered gunshot wounds and was most likely dead before the crash occurred. German authorities believe he was a victim rather than an accomplice.

The crash came less than a month after a U.S. State Department calling for caution in markets and other public places, saying extremist groups including Islamic State and Al-Qaida were focusing "on the upcoming holiday season and associated events."

Islamic State and al-Qaida have both called on followers to use trucks in particular to attack public places. On July 14, a truck plowed into a Bastille Day crowd in the southern French city of Nice, killing 86 people. Islamic State claimed responsibility for that attack, which was carried out by a Tunisian living in France.