A tractor plowed into a police squad car on Menachem Begin Boulevard in Jerusalem on Thursday. The driver was apparently also trying to hit a nearby bus, but missed.
Two police officers were in the car when it was hit and both sustained mild injuries. Other police officers patrolling nearby shot the terrorist.
Magen David Adom emergency services were immediately dispatched to the area. The paramedics treated both the injured officers and the tractor driver, who reportedly sustained severe injuries.
One of the police officers and the terrorist were taken to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital in Jerusalem. The other police officer was taken to the capital's Shaare Zedek Medical Center. The tractor driver, later identified as Mir'i Radeideh, 26, from the Beit Hanina neighborhood in east Jerusalem, died of his wounds.
The tractor from Thursday's attack (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Jerusalem District Police Commander Nissan Shaham recapped the event: "At approximately 1:10 pm we received a report of a terror attack taking place at Menachem Begin Boulevard. A Jerusalem Highway Patrol car was first to arrive at the scene and saw the bulldozer attempt to crush the police car and then lift it up.
"The officers shot the terrorist and neutralized him. Seconds later, a cab driver who pulled over fired as well, as did another police officer who arrived at the scene, and a force volunteer. The driver was critically injured, taken off the tractor and rushed to a nearby hospital, where he later died of his wounds. We found an open Quran book in the driver's compartment."
Shaham also said that following the event, the police have compiled a list of all bulldozer owners and licensed drivers in the capital's area, adding that "this is not the kind of attack we can anticipate to thwart in advance," he said.
Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen later added that "this event ended as well as it could have, with only two injured officers. In the next few hours we will be able to say where the terrorist came from."
Meanwhile, Gaza's Hamas rulers praised Thursday's bulldozer attack in Jerusalem as a "natural response" to Israel's demolition of Palestinian homes in Arab east Jerusalem and to the Jewish state's offensive in the Gaza Strip: "The operation in Jerusalem was a natural response to aggression against our people. The Zionist enemy should realize that they alone bear the responsibility for displacing our people in Jerusalem and for the killings in Gaza and the West Bank," said Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas official.
Third of its kind
Three schoolgirls who witnessed the events were treated for shock. "This was nothing short of a miracle," Haim Weingarten of Zaka (Disaster Victim Identification), told Ynet. "The terrorist was apparently aiming for the bus, but a power pole that had fallen on the road stopped it."
"I was about 100 yard away from (the attack) and I could see this tractor run amuck. It looked like it would also hit a bus that was in the intersection. Then it seemed to turn and go after the police car," eyewitness Sunny Benyamini told Ynet.
The squad car that was hit (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
"I saw the (police) car go backwards and forwards and then the policemen shot at the tractor. It came to a stop and many people around it jumped on it and overpowered the driver," he said.
MDA Director-General Eli Bin confirmed that two police officers were treated at the scene and rushed to a nearby hospital. "The security forces and the emergency teams operated in an exemplary fashion," he added.
Thursday's tractor attack is the third of its kind in the capital: July of 2008 saw two such attacks – the first resulting in three people dead and 30 injured and the second resulting in 18 people injured. In both cases, the assailant was a resident of east Jerusalem.
Roi Mandel and Daniel Edelson contributed to this report