Middle East

Jerusalem lorry attack: Four Israeli soldiers killed

Media captionBenjamin Netanyahu: "We will overcome terror attacks"

Four people have been killed in Jerusalem by a Palestinian man who drove a lorry into a group of soldiers, in what police called a terror attack.

Three women and one man, all in their twenties, were killed and 17 others were wounded, police said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attacker, who was shot dead by soldiers, was a suspected supporter of so-called Islamic State.

But the prime minister gave no evidence to support the claim.

The victims were taking part in an educational trip, the Israeli military said.

The Israel Defense Forces tweeted that their names were Lt Yael Yekutiel, 20; Lt Shir Hajaj, 22; 2nd Lt Erez Orbach, 20 and 2nd Lt Shira Tzur, 20.

The attacker, identified as 28-year-old Fadi Qunbar, came from the Palestinian district of Jabel Mukaber in east Jerusalem, near to the attack site.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Images showed a truck with bullet holes in the windscreen
Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The attack took place on a popular promenade

CCTV footage showed the truck ploughing at high speed into the soldiers, before reversing over the victims.

"He drove backward to crush more people," eyewitness Leah Schreiber told reporters. "That was really clear."

Media captionLeah Schreiber described what she saw during the Jerusalem lorry attack

The attack took place on the popular Armon Hanatziv promenade overlooking the walled Old City of Jerusalem.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said security had been heightened throughout the city in response.

An emergency meeting of the Israeli security cabinet approved administrative detention for IS sympathisers and authorised the destruction of the driver's home.

Mr Netanyahu visited the site of the attack on Sunday afternoon and said: "We know that there has been a series of terror attacks.

"There definitely could be a connection between them - from France to Berlin, and now Jerusalem."

Attackers in Nice and Berlin last year used the same method of driving a lorry through a crowd.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Israeli soldiers sit in a bus as they wait to leave the scene

Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on residents not to "let terror win" and said militants would "pay a heavy price".

"There is no limit to the cruelty of the terrorists who are willing to use any means possible to murder Jews and to damage the life routine of Israel's capital," he said.

The US state department condemned the attack "in the strongest possible terms" and the European Union also issued a condemnation.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas praised the attacker. Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanou called it a "heroic" act and encouraged other Palestinians to "escalate the resistance".

Before this latest incident, 35 Israelis had been killed in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians or Israeli Arabs since October 2015.

Image copyright @idfspokesperson
Image caption The victims were soldiers in their twenties

More than 200 Palestinians - mostly attackers, Israel says - have also been killed in that period.

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.

The BBC's Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says the number of attacks had begun to subside in recent months, but Sunday's incident is one of the most serious there has been.

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