Shalom Yohai Sharki
The head of Israel's police said Thursday evening that a Jerusalem incident in which a Palestinian man swerved his car into Shalom Yohai Sharki and his friend Shira Klein was most likely a terror attack and not a traffic accident as initially suspected.
"According to initial suspicions, this is a terror attack," Police Commissioner Danino told Army Radio hours after Sharki succumbed to the wounds he sustained in Wednesday's incident in Jerusalem. Sharki is the son of a prominent religious-Zionist rabbi and the brother of a prominent Israeli journalist.
The incident took place on the eve of Israel's Holocaust Memorial Day events. "We view such events with utmost severity, especially when it takes place on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day."
Sharki and Klien were seriously injured by the vehicle Wednesday night at the French Hill junction in Jerusalem as they waited for a bus before being hit in what is now being investigated as yet another incident of vehicular terror. At the time, police said the driver "swerved from his lane and hit two civilians standing at the station".
Sharki was laid to rest Thursday, with his father, Rabbi Uri Sharki, eulogizing him as a hero who attempted to save his friend from what he called a "terrorist".
"We have no doubt this a terror attack – this boy was sitting in a bus station with a young girl and the terrorist rammed himself into them and killed him because he was Jewish," the rabbi said.
His brother, Yair, echoed the claims saying "when I saw the pictures from the scene, I had no doubt this was a terror attack."
Over 2,000 people attended his funeral, which his partner, Klein, was unable to attend as she lays in a hospital bed, still in serious condition from the attack.
The driver, Khaled Kutina, 37, is currently being investigated by the police and defense establishment. At face value, he fits the profile of a 'lone wolf' attacker, and joins a long list of similar incident in Jerusalem, in which a Palestinian or Israeli Arab with a car ploughs into a crowd, usually at a bus or light rail station.
The latest such attack took place at the beginning of May, when a Palestinian rammed his car into group of military police officers, wounding five. The attack took place outside a Border Police base in northern Jerusalem on Shimon HaTzadik street, which was also the site of a November 5 hit and run terror attack that killed one border police offer and injured 13 people. The area has seen no less than 5 terror attacks in the past year.
Roi Yanovski and Yaron Doron contributed to this report