5 Nov 2014

Driver shot dead after ramming into pedestrians in Jerusalem

A Palestinian man is shot dead by police after he rams his car into pedestrians in central Jerusalem, killing one and injuring 14.

In the second attack of its kind in two weeks, the driver drove his white van into three paramilitary border policemen crossing a street dividing a Palestinian neighbourhood and an ultra-Orthodox Jewish area.

He then drove into people at a railway stop before crashing to a halt at a nearby junction, where he emerged from the van and began hitting pedestrians with a metal pipe.

An Israeli security official later identified him as Ibrahim Akari, 38, from east Jerusalem.

A border policeman opened fire, killing Akari. One person later died in hospital and about a dozen people were injured, Israeli police said.

Hamas described the attack as “the heroic running-over operation”. In Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman, added: “We call for more such … operations.”

Ceasefire deal

The attack was almost identical to one two weeks ago in which two people, a baby girl and young woman from Ecuador, were killed at a train platform near by after a Palestinian motorist drove through a station. He was shot dead by Israeli police.

It came as tensions were already running high and the new attack threatens a ceasefire deal agreed between Israel and Hamas at the end of August after seven weeks of war and the loss of more than 2,000 lives.

Earlier in the day, Israeli police had dispersed dozens of Palestinians who threw rocks and firecrackers near a contested holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City. The Palestinians were protesting against a planned visit to a key holy site by Israeli supporters of a rightwing activist who was shot by a Palestinian gunman last week.

Israelis had planned on commemorating a week since a Palestinian shot and wounded American-Israeli activist Yehuda Glick, who has campaigned for more Jewish access to the location, revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, al-Haram al-Sharif. It contains the al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam.


Such visits are viewed as a provocation by Palestinians.

A letter of condolence sent by the Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas to Glick three days ago drew sharp criticism from Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

“The terror attack in Jerusalem today is a direct result of the incitement by Abbas and his Hamas partners,” Netanyahu said.

East Jerusalem has been turbulent since the summer, with Palestinian youths throwing stones and firebombs at motorists and clashing frequently with Israeli police.

The Israeli government recently sent 1,000 additional officers to Jerusalem in response to the unrest. Most of them are stationed in the predominantly Palestinian east. Residents say they have been cracking down on offences including for unpaid rates and taxes.