JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian rammed his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem on Sunday, killing four people and wounding 15 others, Israeli police and rescue services said, in one of the deadliest attacks of a more than yearlong campaign of violence.
Security camera footage shown on Israeli Channel 2 TV showed the truck barreling at a high speed off the road and into the crowd of people in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood. The truck is seen backing up quickly, apparently trying to crush more people, before the driver was shot dead.
“There was no sense in that reverse,” Leah Schreiber, a witness, told reporters. “He drove backward to crush more people. That was really clear.”
Israel’s police chief Roni Alsheich told reporters the attacker was from an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem and forces had no advance warning. He refused to elaborate, and a gag order was placed on further details pending an investigation.
Israel’s rescue service MDA said the dead included three women and a man, all in their 20s. Of the 15 wounded, one was in serious condition.
The attack matched the deadliest in a more than yearlong wave of Palestinian shooting, stabbing and vehicular attacks against Israelis that had slowed of late. Last June, a pair of gunmen killed four people at a popular Tel Aviv tourist site.
Since September 2015, Palestinian attackers have killed 40 Israelis and two visiting Americans. During that time, 230 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.
Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were attackers while the rest died in clashes. The Palestinians and rights groups have accused Israel of using excessive force in some confrontations. Sunday’s incident marks the first Israeli deaths in three months.
Israel says the violence is driven by a Palestinian campaign of incitement, while Palestinians say it’s the result of nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation and dwindling hopes for an independent state.
The Palestinian Hamas movement, an Islamic militant group that rules Gaza and has killed hundreds of Israelis in attacks over the years, praised the assault but stopped short of taking responsibility.
Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanou called it a “heroic” act and encouraged other Palestinians to do the same and “escalate the resistance.”
He said the attack proves the wave of Palestinian violence has not ended, despite a recent lull. “It may be quiet, it may linger, but it will never end,” he said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on residents to be wary but carry on with their everyday life.
“Unfortunately, there is no limit to the cruelty of terrorists who spare no means in killing Jews and disrupting their way of life,” he said. “Those who incite and support terror must pay a heavy price.”