JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the deadly truck-ramming attack on a group of Israel soldiers was inspired by the Islamic State terrorist group.
Netanyahu arrived on the scene of the Sunday afternoon attack in the eastern Jerusalem neighbourhood of Armon Hanatziv with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman.
“We in Jerusalem have just experience an unprovoked terrorist attack, a murderous attack that claimed the lives of four young Israelis and wounded others,” he said in a statement. “This is part of the same pattern inspired by Islamic State, by ISIS, that we saw first in France, then in Germany and now in Jerusalem.”
Four Israeli soldiers were killed and 15 wounded in the attack on the promenade in the neighborhood, also known as East Talpiot, which marks the border between the eastern and western halves of the city and is usually full of joggers, walkers and tourists.
The driver of the truck was killed by shots fired during the attack. He was identified as a 28-year-old resident of the Jabel Mukaber neighbourhood of eastern Jerusalem.
“This is part of the same ongoing battle against this global scourge of the new terrorism,” Netanyahu said in his statement. “We can only fight it together, but we have to fight it, and we will.”
Liberman said the attack should not be connected to any recent incidents.
“It’s clear that this murderous terror attack did not happen for any other reasons than this: Because we are Jews and because we live here in the Land of Israel,” Liberman said during the site visit. “There was no other reasons for it and there is no need to search for justification – not Jewish settlements and not peace negotiations, just terror, inspired by Islamic State.”
The Israel Defense Forces said it would continue to investigate the incident, including accusations that the soldiers, cadets in an officers training course, did not immediately shoot the driver of the truck, believing that they hesitated due to the verdict late last week in the Elor Azaria case. Azaria, an army sergeant, was convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a downed Palestinian terrorist.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, called on new United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to condemn the attack. He called it a “direct result of Palestinian incitement.”
The U.S. ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, condemned the attack in a post on Facebook, offering condolences to the families of the victims and prayers for the recovery of the injured.
The UN’s special envoy to the peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, tweeted his condemnation of the attack, adding it, “Must be condemned by all. Absolutely no excuses, no justifications!”
The terror group Hamas praised the attack but fell short of claiming responsibility for it. The attack is a “natural reaction to the Israeli crimes and violations against our people, land and holy sites,” Hamas said in a statement.
Its spokesman said in a Facebook post that “the continuous operations in the West Bank and Jerusalem prove that the Jerusalem intifada is not an isolated event, but rather a decision by the Palestinian people to revolt until it attains its freedom and liberation from the Israeli occupation.”
World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder condemned what he called the “heinous attack,” which he also called “barbaric and terrifying.”
“Jews around the world are standing in solidarity today with Israelis in this time of terror of fear,” he said in a statement. “Our hearts go out to the victims and their families.”