A heavy crane truck, driven by a Palestinian terrorist, rocketed back and forth across a patch of grass at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem, murdering 4 soldiers, three of them female servicewomen, and injuring 15, before a civilian security guard, Eytan Rond, and a soldier shot and killed the driver.
Present at the scene were some 300 trainees of the IDF Officers’ School, Bahad 1 - all of them armed. Eytan described how he shot at the truck’s wheels but, when it kept on coming, he ran round to the driver’s side of the cab and shot him straight through the wind screen. The driver was killed on the spot.
The photo attached to this article shows no more than 9 or 10 bullet holes, confirming the security guard’s statement that he emptied a magazine. He also reported that the officers and men closest to him hesitated to use their M-16 rifles, which he said were better than his own, and could have stopped the truck much sooner before it began wheeling back and forth and slamming into more victims.
His account was confirmed by video footage, which shows dozens of uniformed men 30-50 meters from the rampaging truck and heading away. There were also witnesses who reported that groups of Palestinians stood by and watched and some clapped and shouted encouragement to the truck driver.
A straight line must clearly be drawn between the conduct IDF soldiers exhibited in Jerusalem Sunday and the case of the Hebron soldier, Elor Azaria, whom a week ago a military court convicted of manslaughter for killing an injured terrorist.
The Azaria case has proved highly divisive in Israel, with heated arguments going back and forth over his action. But, the fact remains that, just a week later, a large group of IDF servicemen, most of them officer cadets, bolted instead of challenging the terrorist, when they were faced with the first major Palestinian terrorist attack after the court’s verdict.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who visited the scene at the end of the day called an urgent security cabinet meeting for Sunday night.
Members of the terrorist’s family have been taken in for police questioning His neighborhood, Jabal Muqaber, is under lockdown.
debkafile reported immediately after the incident:
A heavy truck carrying a crane smashed into a group of soldiers at the Armon Hanatziv promenade in Jerusalem, killing at least 4 soldiers and injuring another 15 on Sunday, Jan. 8. Two women were among the fatalities, all of whom were in their 20s. The Palestinian driver swerved off the road and hit the group as they stepped off a bus. Responders and first aid personnel in ambulances rushed to the scene and worked hard to rescue victims caught under the wheels of the truck.
The driver was quickly shot dead and so prevented from killing more people. Police are interrogating members of his family at the Jabal Muqaber district not far from the scene of the attack.
debkafile’s military sources: The terrorist was shot by a civilian who fired directly into the driver’s cab. The soldiers who were knocked were armed, but apparently too shocked to pull their weapons.
Police commissioner Ronny Alsheikh said in a briefing at the scene that this might have been a copycat attack after the trucks that mowed down civilians in ISIS attacks in Nice and Berlin in recent months. However, he said, a local Jerusalem Palestinian in Jerusalem can easily pick his targets in the city. He carries a residential ID, moves freely around the town and can drive a vehicle with a standard Israeli plate, as the killer truck did Sunday.
When he saw a group descending from a bus at the popular promenade, he saw his chance, swerved at top speed and struck.
The police commissioner declined to reveal any details, including the identity of the driver, to avoid compromising the invewstigation. However Palestinian social media described the episode in detail, along with the terrorist's name, in an outpouring of congratulations for his "feat.".