Jerusalem’s police director Yoram Halevy said the park is located near a Palestinian Authority (PA) cooperative police center made up of Syrian, Jordanian and Palestinian laborers. He added that the building was labeled as a “UNRWA-built” facility by UNRWA in its Facebook page, but played an active role in Hamas-led reconstruction efforts in the occupied Palestinian territory.The park was damaged in the drive-by attack.
Halevy was quoted by Israeli media as saying the bomb was planted by a Hamas operative from the area. Half an hour after the attack, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri quoted Hamas Interior Minister Izzat al-Rishq as condemning the attack, calling the car bomb attack a “motherless act,” and accusing Israel of “pressurizing” Palestinians to carry out violent attacks against Israelis.
Halevy said two people were wounded — a Palestinian and a Jordanian — during the attack, and that police were on the scene investigating the situation to find the motives behind the attack. Israeli media reported that police called up an armed guard at the Jordan Valley road, and had to intervene in the area with a military vehicle to secure the area.
Police placed further restrictions on Palestinians entering the park following the attack, notifying them to turn back and checking their IDs to see if they were carrying explosives.
This is the second one reported in the East Jerusalem area in a week, after a Palestinian rammed his car in an attempt to kill several Israeli Border Police officers. The car bomb attack led to dozens of injured and three killed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on Thursday’s attack to derail efforts to restart peace talks between Israel and the PA due to resume some time in late January, and voiced concern that so many of the attacks being carried out by Palestinian youths against army patrols could risk sabotaging the coming talks.
At the same time, Israeli security forces have arrested several Palestinians as part of a campaign seen as aimed at curbing violence in the occupied West Bank.
The latest IDF car-ramming attack occurred around 4:30 a.m. local time near the Jaffa Gate, one of the entrances to the Old City, just after hundreds of Palestinian youths gathered for a high school graduation ceremony.
A seemingly unarmed “construction worker” lay in front of the entrance, with a large knife and sporting a scarf, awaiting the attackers, who tried to enter.
One of the youths took the construction worker hostage, asking him whom he was working for, before stabbing him three times both legs and feet, said police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld.
Israeli police opened fire and injured the attacker, also wounding the construction worker three times in the abdomen, Rosenfeld said.
He was evacuated from the scene in a conscious state to a hospital for treatment. Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld described the attack as an “attempted assassination.”
Israeli Border Police officers and Border Police officers on the ground witnessed the attack but did not intervene until the injured youth was evacuated from the scene.
The attack comes as the PA is expanding its construction work in the illegal Jewish-only settlement of Beit El, near the West Bank city of Jericho, at another militant-heavy junction known as the “E1 Triangle.”
On Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri condemned the Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas for seeking to legitimize “settler terrorism,” saying Israel should “cut” Abbas “to pieces” for his actions.
A source in Abbas’s Fatah movement stated the Palestinian leader urged Hamas members to show “resolve and stand firm” in the face of “settler terrorism.”
Since the beginning of the month, Rivlin has met with PA security chiefs in a bid to ease tensions in Jerusalem which has seen dozens of stabbing attacks — at least 11 of them non-fatal — against Israeli officers and civilians amid settlers’ calls for escalating violence against Israel.
There have been a series of violence in the center of Jerusalem as well as in West Bank towns and cities. Israeli authorities have arrested more than 200 Palestinians in the last week of October.
An additional 78 Palestinians were detained following violent clashes in Palestinian communities and refugee camps in the occupied West Bank, including Qalqiliya and Hebron.
The three most serious attacks in October include the deadly three-day rampage on October 1 and the stabbing attack on October 19 that resulted in the death of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy during the ParisACMA music festival in Tel Aviv.