A driver has rammed a car into a crowded bus stop in east Jerusalem, killing two people, including a six-year-old, and injuring five others before being shot and killed, Israeli police and medics say.

Israel’s rescue service identified the two killed as a six-year-old boy and a man in his 20s, while five others were being treated for injuries, including a eight-year-old in critical condition

Police say an off-duty officer shot and killed the suspected attacker at the scene

The incident took place at a bus stop in Ramot, a Jewish settlement in east Jerusalem.

Tensions have soared in the Israeli-annexed eastern half of the city, following a Palestinian shooting attack on January 27 that killed seven people in the deadliest attack in Jerusalem in over a decade.

The Israeli rescue service identified the two killed as a six-year-old boy and a man in his 20s.

It said medics were treating five injured, including an eight-year-old in a critical condition. Others, ages ranging from 10 to 40, were in moderate to serious condition.

They had been waiting at the bus stop before the car came crashing to a stop, police said.

“It was a shocking scene,” said paramedic Lishai Shemesh, who happened to be driving by at the time of the attack.

“I was in the car with my wife and children and noticed a car driving fast into the bus stop and crushing the people who were waiting there.”

An off-duty detective shot and killed the suspected attacker at the scene, police added, describing him as a Palestinian in his 30s from east Jerusalem. Palestinian media identified him as 32-year-old Hussein Qaraqa.

Israel’s hardline national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, ordered police to set up checkpoints around the driver’s neighbourhood of Issawiya to “check every vehicle.”

“I wanted to to create a full blockade [on the area], but there is a judicial question around it,” he added.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu described the incident as a terrorist attack and ordered security forces to be reinforced.

Mr Netanyahu’s office said he dispatched more police forces to the area and directed them to arrest those in the driver’s “circle.”

He and Mr Ben-Gvir called for the immediate sealing of the assailant’s home ahead of its planned demolition.

Israel defends such home demolitions of Palestinian attackers’ family homes as a deterrent meant to prevent future attacks.

But human rights groups criticise the practice as collective punishment, prohibited by international law, leaving relatives who had nothing to do with the attack homeless.

The Islamic militant groups Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, praised the suspected attack but did not immediately claim responsibility.

Footage from the scene showed police and paramedics swarming around a mangled blue Mazda that had slammed into a bus stop.

Israel claims all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians seek east Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, as a capital of their future state.

Hostilities have escalated in east Jerusalem and the West Bank since Israel stepped up raids in the occupied territory last spring, following a series of deadly Palestinian attacks within Israel.

Nearly 150 Palestinians were killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem in 2022, making it the deadliest year in those territories since 2004, according to leading Israeli rights group B’Tselem.

Last year, 30 people were killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.

So far this year, 43 Palestinians have been killed, according to a count by The Associated Press — 10 of them in a gunfight last month during an army raid in Jenin in the occupied West Bank.

Article link: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2023-02-11/israeli-police-2-killed-5-wounded-in-suspected-car-ramming/101960456
Article source: ABC / AP Reuters | 11.2.23

2024-05-08 07:04:10.000000