Jerusalem – The police presence has been increased in the downtown area of the city in the wake of Tuesday’s terrorist attack by a backhoe driver that left the terrorist dead and injured 28 others.
Police have tightened supervision of Arab workers at building sites throughout the city and dedicated patrols at the sites.
This was the third terror attack in the capital committed in the past six months by Arab residents of East Jerusalem. “There is a need to create a more effective deterrent by demolishing houses, denying rights of families of the perpetrators and other measures,” Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.
Police were also brought into the terrorist’s village of Umm Tuba in the southern part of the city, where police are worried about the possibility of clashes between Israeli and Arab residents.
Commander of the Jerusalem District Police Cmdr. Aharon Franko last night forbade the erection of traditional Islamic mourning tent at the home of the terrorist.
Eyewitnesses Recount The Incident
Throughout the day yesterday, the sordid details of the bulldozer attack were discussed on radio newscasts.
In the attack, on King David Street, a total of 28 people were hurt.
Doctors at Hadassah University Hospital spent the day fighting to save the left leg of Attorney Shuki Kremer, legal adviser to the Israel Basketball Association.
It all happened very quickly. The backhoe driver, Ghasan Abu-Tir, 22, who was laying pipes in George Washington Street at the corner of Keren Hayesod Street for Jerusalem’s inner rail service line, suddenly drove out at full speed into Keren Hayesod Street.
Mr. Avi Levy, driver of a Number-13 bus, was driving by the entrance to George Washington Street when the backhoe rammed his bus, rocking it.
“I thought I had struck some car or that I had caused an accident,” he said. “I couldn’t see the [backhoe] in my right view mirror. And then, suddenly, he made a U-turn, came at me from the left at full speed, and smashed the shovel into the passengers’ windows. I saw death staring me in the face. I put my foot down on the accelerator, swung round into Mapu Street and got away from him.”
Mr. Avraham Levi, 70, was sitting in his van at the time of the attack. “He rammed the car behind me, and sent it smashing into the rear of my van,” Mr. Levi said. “The car was completely destroyed. Then he tried to overturn my van too. I escaped to the right, and he struck the car in front of me and overturned it on its side.”
“I saw the tractor chasing the bus, and suddenly it turned towards me,” said Mr. David Levy, 62, from Mevasseret Tziyon. “I stepped on the gas but the shovel struck my car on the left side, stopping me. I jumped out and got away.”
The terrorist managed to hit five cars and a bus before he was stopped and killed by an armed passer-by.
When the backhoe attack in King David Street took place, Mr. Asael was in his car on the way to pick up his wife Tzofit from her work, for a family holiday in the north. “I realized immediately that it was a terrorist attack. There was no doubt about it,” Mr. Asael said. “I stopped the car, took my pistol and fired at the bulldozer. I did what had to be done. I don’t think I’m a hero.”
Mr. Asael, a former Israeli army-tank company commander, who now grows grapes and cherries in the Jewish farming community of Sussiya in the southern Hebron Hills. He also teaches the Bible at the yeshiva high school in Kiryat Arba.
“He showed presence of mind and resourcefulness,” said his brother, Mr. Amotz Asael, a senior writer at The Jerusalem Post. “He has been like that since he was a child. When something has to be done he knows exactly what it is and how to do it.”
The attack took place not far from the King David Hotel, where Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama was staying.
The Terrorist-Relative Of Senior Hamas Member Abu Tir
The terrorist belonged to clan of Hamas spokesperson Sheikh Muhammad Abu Tir, a Hamas Palestinian parliament member who has been in imprisoned since June 2006 in connection with Israel Defense Forces Cpl. Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping.
The Bulletin has learned that Ghasan Abu Tir contacted another member of his clan, Jamal Abu Tir, who works in the sensitive visa section of the American consulate. The visa section decides who is able to come to the U.S. A source in the consulate said the terrorist told Jamal Abu Tir he was calling from a location near Jerusalem’s Keren Hayesod Street, and he planned to do something soon before the attack.
Two unanswered questions to the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem and to the U.S. State Department in Washington were sent inquiring as to whether or not Jamal Abu Tir’s alleged Hamas connections have been examined and whether he holds a security clearance.
Whether Ghasan Abu Tir acted entirely on his own or had help remains to be seen.
David Bedein can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His Web site is www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com.
©The Bulletin 2008