JERUSALEM (AP) – A Palestinian man rammed his car into a crowded train platform in east Jerusalem on Wednesday, then attacked people with an iron bar and injured at least six in what authorities called a terror attack before he was shot dead by the police.
It was the second such attack in the past two weeks, and deepened already heightened tensions between Arabs and Jews in the city. Earlier Wednesday, Israeli police had dispersed dozens of masked Palestinians who threw rocks and firecrackers near a contested holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Police said the motorist slammed his car into the train platform in east Jerusalem first, backed out and proceeded to drive away, hitting several cars along the way. He then got out of the car and attacked a group of police officers on the side of the road with a metal bar before he was shot and killed. Police identified the man as a Palestinian from east Jerusalem. There was no immediate claim of responsibility by any Palestinian organisation but the Islamic militant group Hamas praised the attack and called for more violence.
Wednesday’s car attack was almost identical to one two weeks ago that killed two people, a baby girl and a woman from Ecuador, at a train platform, also in Jerusalem.
Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have been clashing almost daily in east Jerusalem in recent months.
Israel captured east Jerusalem – with its sites sacred to Jews, Muslims and Christians – from Jordan in the 1967 war. Palestinians demand the territory for their future capital. The fate of the area is an emotional issue for Jews and Muslims and its future lies at the heart of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The car attack came shortly after clashes in the Old City, where Palestinians threw rocks and firecrackers at police to protest a planned visit to a key holy site by Israeli supporters of a right-wing activist who was shot by a Palestinian gunman last week.
The 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, which is revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Palestinians view such visits as a provocation and often respond violently.
Several police officers were hurt in the clashes, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, adding that the police used stun grenades to disperse the Palestinians. Quiet was soon restored, he said.
Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have clashed almost daily in east Jerusalem in recent months, with much of the unrest focussed around a sacred compound revered by both Jews and Muslims. It’s the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount because of the revered Jewish Temples that stood there in biblical times. Muslims refer to it as the Noble Sanctuary, and it is their third holiest site, after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia.
Glick, a leading voice in a campaign to expand Jewish prayer rights on the hilltop complex, was wounded a week ago when a Palestinian gunman on a motorcycle opened fire at him as he left a conference in Jerusalem.
Muslim worshippers view Jewish prayer at the site as a provocation, and Israeli authorities place tough restrictions on it. Everyone visiting the area from the Israeli side has to be screened by police.