Palestinian assailant wounds 5 Israelis in car attack

AP News
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Posted: Mar 06, 2015 2:41 PM
Palestinian assailant wounds 5 Israelis in car attack

JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian rammed his car into a group of Israeli pedestrians near a border police station in east Jerusalem on Friday, injuring four officers and a bystander, police said.

He then lunged at security guards with a knife before being shot and wounded. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri described the incident as a "terror attack."

Police identified the attacker as Mohammed Salaymeh, a 22-year-old Palestinian from east Jerusalem. A woman that Israeli Channel 2 TV identified as Salaymeh's mother justified the attack, saying it was "natural" that a young person would carry out such an attack because of tensions in Jerusalem.

The attack took place at the same intersection where a Palestinian man rammed his car into a crowded train platform in November and then attacked people with an iron bar, killing one person and injuring 13.

Police say it is difficult to prevent such attacks, which appear to be carried out by "lone wolf" assailants not linked to militant groups.

"The swift and determined response stopped the attack as it was beginning and prevented more innocents from being injured," said Moshe Edri, a regional police commander.

Israel's paramilitary border police patrols the area between predominantly Jewish west Jerusalem and the predominantly Arab east Jerusalem.

Police immediately cordoned off the area of the attack, and ultra-Orthodox Jewish onlookers gathered at the scene. The front of the car was smashed and the windshield was cracked. Israeli television showed footage of the wounded attacker lying on the ground before being taken to hospital.

The attack came as Israelis celebrated the carnival-like Jewish holiday of Purim. Police stepped up security throughout the city, and Jerusalem mayor Nir Barkat said celebrations would carry on as usual.

Friday's attack mirrored a spate of similar assaults on Israelis involving cars late last year, in the same part of Jerusalem. The attacks were linked to tensions over the city's most sensitive holy site, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.

In late October, a Palestinian from east Jerusalem who had served prison time for militant activities slammed his car into a train platform, killing a baby girl and a young woman from Ecuador. The attack on the train platform in which the assailant wielded an iron bar came two weeks later.

Two weeks after that, two Palestinian cousins attacked a Jerusalem synagogue with meat cleavers, knives and a handgun, killing five people in the deadliest assault in the holy city since 2008.

In all of those attacks, police shot the attackers dead.

Last week the mayor of Jerusalem and his bodyguard leapt from his car and apprehended an 18-year-old Palestinian after he stabbed an Israeli near City Hall, according to a statement from the mayor.