On Monday, Israeli soldiers who were targeted and killed when a Palestinian rammed a flat-bed truck with a crane in the rear, were buried. On Sunday, the soldiers were visiting a popular Jerusalem tourist site. The act of terror led Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to spark debate by suggesting it was inspired by the Islamic State group.
Video footage that was shared online showed a truck drive through a group of soldiers who were standing next to a bus. The driver then pulled off to the side and tried to reverse towards where the soldiers were hit before the truck eventually came to a stop. Visitors, including soldiers, are seen scattering and running for cover. In defense, soldiers opened fire, as well as at least one civilian.
The military identified the victims as three women — Shira Zur, 20; Yael Yekutiel, 20; and Shir Hajaj, 22; and one man, Erez Orbach, 20. Later on, soldiers could be seen distraught over the incident as rescue workers offered psychological support.
Israeli media published the last message Hajaj’s mother sent to her by phone. It read, “My dear, my life, talk to me, please,”
Sadly, the attack reflects the ongoing trend of violence: since October 2015, there has been an outbreak of Palestinian gun, knife, and car-ramming attacks, but in recent months, the violence had greatly subsided. The last time an Israeli was killed in an attack was October 9.
However, following the attack, police arrested nine people and removed a memorial tent set up in the Palestinian’s east Jerusalem neighborhood, located near the site of the incident. According to police, five of the nine arrested were relatives of the attacker. His cousin dismissed Netanyahu’s statement that al-Qunbar was an IS supporter. “There was nothing in his life saying he was ISIS,” Mohammad al-Qunbar, 43, said as he sat near what was left of the tent in the Jabal Mukaber neighborhood.
“He never contacted ISIS and he doesn’t know ISIS,” he added, using an alternative acronym for the jihadist group. “We were shocked, for sure. We never expected anything like this from Fadi. But what happened has happened and we only say there is no might and power but that of God.”
According to a report from local media, Israeli ministers on Sunday to take a series of actions, including demolishing al-Qunbar’s home and withholding his body.