Israel News for January 9, 2017

Jerusalem Terror
Yesterday a terrorist drove a truck into a a large group of young officer cadets on a popular promenade in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanetziv. The soldiers were on a tour of Jerusalem and listening to a tour guide when the truck veered off the road and rammed into them. Several armed civilians along with two of the soldiers began firing at the truck. But before they could neutralize him the terrorist put the truck in reverse and drove over the wounded.

Four soldiers were killed and 15 soldiers and civilians were wounded in the attack. The soldiers killed were 2nd Lt. Yael Yakutiel (20) from Givatayim, whose rank was posthumously elevated to Lt.; Cadet Shir Hajaj (22) from Ma’ale Adumim, whose rank was posthumously elevated to Lt.; Cadet Shira Tzur (20) from Haifa, whose rank was posthumously elevated to 2nd Lt.; and Cadet Erez Orbach (20) from Alon Shvut, whose rank was posthumously elevated to 2nd Lt. They were all laid to rest today.

To read more about the victims click here.

The were around 300 soldiers in the area taking part in group tours. All of the soldiers were armed. The army is investigating why only two soldiers actually fired at the terrorist. One theory is that they didn’t know it was a terrorist attack until several minutes later. To read more about this click here.

Many of the soldiers ran from scene, apparently upon orders from a commander. To see footage of this from a security camera, click here.

One of the tour guides at the scene who was also injured but managed to fire at the truck with his personal weapon told media that he believed that soldiers hesitated to fire at the truck because of the recent Azaria case in which the soldier was convicted for firing at an incapacitated terrorist. However IDF officials as well as soldiers at the scene were quick to refute that claim.

One of the cadets that fired at the terrorist posted on Facebook, “Please stop listening to sources that don’t verify and immediately publish nonsense and distorted information. Please stop distributing opinions that are based on baseless lies…There is no connection to Elor Azaria. No connection.” He said that cadets ran towards the truck but were cautious about shooting due to the possibility of friendly fire accidents. He concluded by saying that regardless of what the tour guide tells the media, “we fought for our friends.”

To read more about soldiers’ reactions click here.

PM Netanyahu and DM Lieberman visited the site of the attack. Lieberman said, “It is clear that this horrible terrorist attack is not for any other reason rather than just one reason: Because we are Jews, and we live here in the State of Israel. “There was no other reason for this, and you don’t need to look for any justification—not Jewish settlements and not negotiations, but simply a terrorist attack, inspired by ISIS. We saw this in France, we saw it now in Berlin, and unfortunately, we saw it today in Jerusalem. We will fight this terrorism with all the tools at our disposal, and I am certain that there will be results and that we will triumph.”

The White House and State Department, the Canadian Prime Minister, the EU Foreign Minister, several European foreign ministers as well as the UN Security Council condemned the attack.

Palestinian sources identified the terrorist as Fadi Ahmad Al-Qunbar, a released prisoner from Jabel Mukaber, a neighborhood in east Jerusalem that borders East Talpiot. IDF troops raided the terrorist’s house shortly after the attack. The PM said that he believed that the terrorist was affiliated with ISIS. Hamas promised the attack, calling it heroic and pledging more attacks. They also gave out sweets in Gaza to celebrate.

Minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan has ordered the police not to return the body of the terrorist to his family for burial. He said, “This is a particularly heinous, painful and serious crime that could lead to copycats. We will not allow the vile terrorist and his family to have a funeral that would grant him the respect that would encourage other attackers.”