Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Mayhem returns to the Streets of Jerusalem

Road rage on the roadmap to Peace? A Palestinian worker went berserk today in Jerusalem, and killed at least three people and injured dozens more by ramming his bulldozer into a couple of downtown buses and flattening private cars. Ultimately police shot the assailant in the head with an Uzi in order to halt his rampage that had scattered screaming pedestrians. He had taken the bulldozer from a building site for the light railway and headed into the traffic with a vengeance. The man reportedly lives in East Jerusalem and had his work permits in order.Security has tightened across the city, especially near the markets.

Jerusalem's ultra-Orthodox Mayor Uri Lupolianski lamented that terrorists were constantly coming up with new ways to harm Jerusalem. This is the first public attack in nearly four years in the city, although a Jewish seminary was the scene of a serial shooting attack by a Palestinian earlier this year.

"My daughter was in the next bus, but she wasn't hurt," Lupolianski told reporters. "To our regret the attackers do not cease coming up with new ways to strike at the heart of the Jewish people here in Jerusalem."

It appears that the man, Hosam Tayseer Dawyyat, who had a criminal record, was acting alone, not as part of a terrorism plot. Predictably, a Hamas spokesman said Wednesday that the random attack was "a natural reaction to Israel's aggression," adding Hamas did not know who was behind the attack. There have been calls by Ehud Olmert to demolish his living quarters in retribution. And a little-known group in the Galilee claimed credit for the bizarre attack, but this was not corroborated.

The man who killed the bulldozer driver was Moshe Klessner, 18, who is reportedly the brother-in-law of IDF officer David Shapira. Shapira killed the Arab shooter who attacked the Mercaz Harav religious seminary, according to the Jerusalem Post. A 4-month old baby escaped serious injury and was found by police beside a flattened car; its parents have yet to be located.

Several emergency hotlines have been set following the attack:

Shaare Zedek Medical Center can be reached at 1255125.
The Jerusalem Municipality's hotline 972-2-5314600/1/2/3/4.
The Immigrant Absorption Ministry opened another hotline, offering assistance in English, French, Spanish, Russian and Amharic. Contact 1255021010.

Addendum from Agence France Press:

Public Security Minister Avi Dichter told reporters the attack would not succeed in severing mostly Arab east Jerusalem from what Israel considers its "eternal, undivided" capital.

"One must remember that one third of Jerusalem are Arab citizens but all of Jerusalem is Israel's sovereign territory," he said.

"Whoever thinks that the one third of east Jerusalemites will succeed to sever part of Jerusalem and take it out of Israeli control is wrong."

Peace talks resumed between Israel and the Palestinians in November but have stalled amid violence in and around the Gaza Strip and continued Jewish settlement building on occupied Palestinian land.

At least 524 people have been killed since the negotiations resumed, mostly militants in the besieged Gaza Strip, according to an AFP count.

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