Jerusalem truck attack: Suspect may have supported ISIS, Netanyahu says

Posted at 9:51 PM, Jan 08, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-08 21:51:18-05

The driver who plowed a truck into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem, killing four people and injuring at least 10, may have been an ISIS sympathizer, according to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Israeli police shot and killed the attack suspect, whom they identified as 28-year-old Fadi Qunbar. Police have also arrested nine other suspects, including five of Qunbar’s family members.

Speaking from the scene of the attack, on a promenade overlooking the walled Old City of Jerusalem, Netanyahu said authorities have identified the terrorist and “all signs show he is a supporter of the Islamic State.”

“We know there is a sequence of terror attacks and it’s quite possible that there is a connection between them, from France, Berlin and now Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said.

Israel will now consider using administrative detention against suspected ISIS sympathizers and supporters, according to an official familiar with the decision. Earlier, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN “there are no potential active ISIS cells here in Israel.”

Netanyahu said police had sealed off Qunbar’s predominately Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem while they investigate.

Hamas praises driver

While no group has claimed responsibility for the attack, Hamas, the militant fundamentalist Islamic organization, praised the attacker on Twitter.

“We bless the courageous and heroic truck operation in Jerusalem,” the group tweeted. “It comes within the context of the normal response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation.”

Hamas’ goal is the creation of an Islamic fundamentalist Palestinian state and they insist that Israel is an occupying power and must be destroyed.

Victims identified

Three of the four people killed were women. Israel Defense Forces said three of the slain were cadets and one was an officer. All of the slain victims were in their 20s.

“A group had gotten off the bus and were getting organized with their bags when the terrorist took the opportunity, ramming his truck into the group,” Rosenfeld said.

“Then he in fact reversed and tried to ram them again until shots were fired, and the terrorist was shot and killed at the scene.”

The four soldiers killed in the Jerusalem truck attack Sunday have been identified by Israel Defense Forces. They are:

— 2nd Lt. Yael Yekutiel, 20, of Givatayim

— Cadet Shir Hajaj, 22, of Maale Adumim

— Cadet Shira Tsur, 20, of Haifa

— Cadet Erez Orbach, 20, of Alon Shvut

Netanyahu posted photos of the four soldiers on Facebook with this message: “I am mourning the loss of our four soldiers who were murdered today in the terrorist attack in Jerusalem. In the name of all the people of Israel, I offer my condolences to their families.”

Several other officers and cadets were injured and evacuated to hospitals for medical treatment, IDF said.

In a statement, Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, said there was “no limit to the cruelty of the terrorists who use every means to murder Jews and damage the routine life in the capital of Israel.”

US response

In a statement, the US State Department condemned the “glorification of terrorism now or at any time” and said “there is absolutely no justification for these brutal and senseless attacks.”

Diplomatic tensions have flared between the United States and Israel in recent weeks after the Obama administration decided not to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel and its construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem.