Written by IICC
July 6, 2008
Overview of Jerusalem Terror Attack
1. At around noon on July 2, a terrorist from East Jerusalem carried out a mass-casualty attack in a crowded area of central Jerusalem, using a giant bulldozer. He began by taking it from a construction site on Sarei Israel Boulevard and racing along the street, slamming into everything he met. From there he turned into Jaffa Road , ramming cars and pedestrians along the way. After a short time a policeman, security guard and off-duty soldier managed to shoot him, stopping his killing rampage.
2. Three civilians were killed in the attack and 44 were wounded, most of them not seriously. The terrorist, who had a criminal record, was a resident of Sur Baher in southeastern Jerusalem . He carried a blue Israeli identity card, enabling him to move freely through the capital, and worked at a local construction site. A number of terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for the attack but in our assessment to date, he did not belong to any of them and was acting on his own initiative. At the same time, the lull continues in the Gaza Strip and the border crossings closed following the rocket and mortar shell attack reopened the same day the attack was carried out in Jerusalem .
The attack and its results
3. At around noon on July 2 the terrorist took a large tractor belonging to a construction company and began driving it at great speed in the wrong lane along Sarei Israel Boulevard in the center of Jerusalem . He hit three cars and several pedestrians. He then turned left into crowded Jaffa Road , ramming and crushing two more cars. An oncoming bus went out of control and was thrown to the side of the road. The terrorist used the shovel of the bulldozer to ram and then overturn another bus.
4. A policewoman fired her weapon at the terrorist and he lost consciousness. A policeman, security guard and off-duty soldier climbed up onto the tractor to stop the terrorist, who regained consciousness and continued ramming cars and attacking civilians. The soldier took the guard's gun and shot the terrorist in the head, killing him and stopping his rampage.
Cars crushed in the attack (Israeli Foreign Ministry, July 2).
5. The terrorist attack killed three civilians and wounded 44, two of them seriously.
Those killed were:
i) Elizabeth (Lily) Goren-Friedman , 55, resident of Jerusalem . She is survived by three children.
ii) Jean Relevy , 68, resident of Jerusalem . He is survived by his wife, two daughters and a son.
iii) Bat-Sheva Unterman , 33, resident of Jerusalem . She is survived by her husband and infant daughter, with her in the car at the time of the attack.
The terrorist's identity and claiming responsibility
6. The terrorist was Hussam Taysir Ibrahim Dawiyat , 30, married, a resident of Sur Baher (a village near East Talpiot annexed to the Jerusalem municipality). He was a known narcotics addict and worked driving a bulldozer at a construction site. In 2001 he was sentenced to two years in prison for rape. He had also been previously imprisoned for a year for assault. (Right Side News notes that prisoner exchanges that are coming up will release worse criminals than this one among civilized pepole such as you and I)
7. It was the second mass-casualty attack in recent months carried out by an East Jerusalem resident with a blue Israeli identity card. On March 6, 2008, an East Jerusalem resident mowed down eight students at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem with an assault rifle. 1 Both attacks were apparently the result of individual initiative motivated by extreme nationalistic sentiments, and not directed by established terrorist organizations.
8. Although the attack was apparently carried out by a lone terrorist with a criminal record, a number of terrorist organizations claimed responsibility for it: first was a network calling itself the Imad Moughnieh Squad of the Free Sons of the Galilee (Ma'an News Agency, July 2), a network which occasionally falsely claims responsibility for various terrorist attacks in Israel, 2 including the attack at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva (Al-Manar TV, March 6). Later, AP reported that three additional organizations had claimed responsibility: the Free Sons of the Galilee , the PFLP and Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade (AP, July 2). In our assessment, it is doubtful whether their claims of responsibility are genuine .
Reactions in Israel
9. Following the attack there were high-level political discussions regarding the legal possibilities of imposing sanctions on terrorists carrying Israeli identity cards and on their families as a means of deterrence. The suggestions raised were razing their houses, depriving them of social services (such as National Insurance benefits for the death of the terrorist) and revoking their and their families' Israeli citizenship and permanent resident status.
10. Following are some reports on the issue (Haaretz, July 3):
i) Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that the attack set a dangerous precedent and that harsh measures had to be taken to create a deterrent. He said that it had to be clear to the terrorists that their families would a high price.
ii) Defense Minister Ehud Barak sent a letter to the Defense Ministry's legal advisor, Ahaz Ben-Ari, demanding the destruction of the terrorist's house. He said that the repetition of such a grave occurrence so soon after the last one, in which a terrorist holding an Israeli identity card carried out a terrorist attack with nationalist motives, demanded an immediate response, and that his house had to be destroyed to deter others from carrying out similar attacks.
iii) On July 2 the Israeli Parliament passed two bills which would enable the Interior Minister to revoke citizenship and permanent resident status from terrorists and their families. The coalition enabled its members to vote as they pleased and the bills passed with large majorities. In addition to the aforementioned two bills, the preliminary stages for two other bills forbidding the erection of mourning tents have already been carried out.
11. Saeb Erekat , chief PLO negotiator, condemned the attack, saying that every attack targeting civilians was to be condemned, whether they were Israeli or Palestinian (AP, July 2).
12. On the other hand, spokesmen for the Palestinian terrorist organizations praised the attack, noting it was “a natural reaction” to Israeli activities:
i) Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that if the event was in fact an attack, it should be seen as “a natural result” of Israel 's actions against the Palestinians in the West Bank
ii) Palestinian Islamic Jihad spokesmen praised the attack and said that Israel could expect others like it because of its stubbornness not to include the West Bank in the lull arrangement (Palestine-info website, July 2).
The lull arrangement in the Gaza Strip (updated to July 2)
13. The lull in the Gaza Strip continues as Hamas maintains calm and continues threatening to take steps against the organizations trying to sabotage the arrangement.
14. On July 2 the Sufa and Nahal Oz crossings were reopened and merchandise continued flowing into the Gaza Strip. The crossings had been ordered closed by the Israeli Defense Minister following violations of the lull arrangement. On Egyptian orders the Rafah crossing was opened on July 1 for a limited time. For the first time since the lull arrangement went into effect, several hundred Palestinians needing medical treatment were permitted to enter Egypt .
15. Protesting the limited opening of the Rafah crossing, hundreds of Palestinians tried to break through to the Egyptian side. They called upon Egypt to open the crossing and let sick Palestinians out and to enable anyone who wanted medical treatment in Egypt to obtain it. There were confrontations between Palestinians and the Egyptian security forces which blockaded the entrance to the Egyptian side of the terminal, and riot control measures were used to disperse the demonstrators. Hamas also sent forces to aid in dispersing them. Several Palestinians were slightly injured (Agence France Presse, PalMedia website, the Hamas administration's website, July 2).
16. Following the incidents Egypt reinforced the border and announced it was closing the crossing. Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Abu al-Ghait called the clash “stupid and irresponsible” and said that Egypt could not accept any penetration into its territory, and certainly not by force. He also criticized the Palestinians for exploiting children in demonstrations (Middle East News Agency, July 3). Hamas spokesmen, embarrassed by the event, called it “a spontaneous act.”
Negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit
17. Osama al-Muzeini , senior Hamas figure involved in the negotiations, linked renewed negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit to the opening of the crossings and the lifting of the blockade. He said that in the coming days Hamas would decide if the quantities of goods delivered through the crossings indicated full Israeli compliance with the terms of the lull arrangement. Should Hamas decide that Israel had not met the terms of the arrangement, the organization would refuse to discuss the issue of the abducted soldier. He said that Hamas had already rejected an invitation to Egypt to continue discussing the matter (Palestine-info website, July 2).
1 For further information see our March 9, 2008 Bulletin entitled “Terrorist shooting at Yeshivat Mercaz Ha'Rav in Jerusalem leaves eight students dead” .
2 The network is composed of Israeli Arabs and who may have links to Hezbollah. It took responsibility for the attack on two security guards at the Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva in the Old City in Jerusalem on August 10, 2007. In June 2004 five members of the Free Sons of the Galilee from Kafr Kana and Kafr Manda in the Galilee were indicted. They were accused of conspiracy, terrorist organization activity, belonging to an outlawed organization and plotting to commit abduction. They were captured while shooting at a Border Police patrol car at the Rimon Junction in the Lower Galilee . In April 2004 the squad's leader, Muhammad Khatib, was killed by the Israeli security forces. It was later discovered that he had been behind the murder of Israeli soldier Oleg Shaichat in July 2003. In July 2004 Khatib's brother stabbed an Israeli soldier at the Golani Junction, later claiming that the attack was revenge for his brother's death (Ynet, July 2004).