Tuesday, July 22


Tractor at the site of the attack. (Alona Alalaluf/Ynet News)

A tractor driver rammed and flipped over a city bus and several cars in downtown Jerusalem close to 2 pm.

An Israeli civilian, Ya'akov Asael, 56, of the community of Sussiya in the Hebron Hills area, and Border policeman Officer Amal Ghanem shot and killed the attacker, according to Army Radio.

The terror attack took place at the intersection of King David and Keren Hayesod Street, and was a nearly exact copy of a similar attack on July 2.

The intersection is the nexus of three major avenues and the site of three hotels: the Inbal, the King Shlomo, and the nearby King David.

The body of the terrorist lies in the backhoe's cab; bullet holes pepper the window. (Haaretz)

Police say the 22-year-old terrorist managed to drive the backhoe 160 meters (0.09 miles) until he was shot and killed by the two passersby. The spokesman said that police "may change their operational methods in the wake of the attack."

Live footage taken shortly after the attack is here.

Yuval Diskin, who heads Israel's Shabak internal security service said that they had received reports of a planned attack against targets in the city, including the use of a tractor, one hour before the rampage.

Authorities have thrown a gag-order on local reporting of any identifying details of the attacker. The individual was reported to have been working with the tractor, a JCB backhoe at a nearby construction site at the Yemin Moshe cultural and convention center.

Debka.com reports that the driver was "Ghassen Abu Tir from Umm Tuba, a Palestinian village in southeast Jerusalem, who was employed at the building site. He was a relative of Muhammed Abu Tir, a Hamas lawmaker held in an Israeli jail."

Police say they were "familiar" with the assailant, and that he has a criminal record.

Latest reports say 29 people were wounded in the attack, including a mother and her nine-month-old infant, according to Israel Radio. A woman sustained a heart attack, and another individual is in danger of an amputated limb in the attack, according to the spokesperson. The remainder are reported to be suffering from shock.

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Diplomats and VIPS are commonly housed at the Inbal and King David hotels, which are both several dozen yards from the intersection.

Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama is due to arrive in Jerusalem Tuesday evening for talks with Israel and Palestinian leaders, and was to be housed at the Inbal. It is unclear what effect the attack will have on his visit.

Liberty Bell park, which is heavily visited by the city's Jewish and Arab residents, and tourists is also across the street from the site of the attack, and Jerusalem's YMCA, a major landmark and cultural facility is nearby.

Police spokesmen say the terrorist copied a a similar attack three weeks ago near the entrance to Jerusalem, in which a Jerusalem Arab resident killed three motorists, and wounded 45.

A city Egged bus on the No. 13 line was rammed in both attacks.

No group has taken responsibility for the latest attack, and police believe the terrorist acted alone as in the previous attack.

The rampage joins a series of other terror attacks throughout the city over the past two months, aimed at it's Jewish residents.

This report will be updated as more details become available.

(Dave Bender)

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