‘Dramatic Increase in Arab Jerusalemites’ Terror Role’

An Arab resident of eastern Jerusalem carried out a terror attack on Monday night, when he rammed his car into soldiers and civilians near the capital’s Old City walls, wounding 17 people. Qasim Al-Mughrabi, 19, was finally stopped when an Israeli military officer shot him dead. The Israeli police said it had no prior warning of the attack.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak called for legal measures to immediately enforce the destruction of terrorists’ houses, for future deterrence. This year has seen a dramatic increase in the involvement of Arab residents of eastern Jerusalem in terror attacks.

During the first six months of 2008, 71 eastern Jerusalemites were arrested for their involvement in terror attacks, the Israel Security Agency (ISA) revealed. This number does not include those arrested after two separate attacks in July, where tractor operators rammed into cars and bystanders in western Jerusalem, killing three people and wounding dozens.

Last year 37 residents of eastern Jerusalem were arrested for their involvement in terror attacks.

The Israeli police have since ordered contractors to conduct stricter background checks of their employees, especially operators of heavy machinery. The police have also increased its covert and open activities inside Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem in an attempt to prevent further attacks.

“It is nearly impossible to thwart such attacks,” a security official told The Media Line.

“This year’s attacks in Jerusalem were all committed by individuals who had no connection to any terror organization. They simply got up in the morning and committed an act without any prior signs, as was the case yesterday,” the official added.

Initial investigations into Monday night’s attack revealed that Al-Mughrabi had asked his cousin to marry him a few hours prior to the attack. His family told the police that when his cousin refused, he left home in a temperamental mood. The family claimed Al-Mughrabi lost control of the car and accidentally hit the people on the sidewalk. The police, however, have determined that the incident was premeditated. Eastern Jerusalemites carry Israeli identity cards and are able to move freely anywhere inside Israel, the security official pointed out.

“That is why the chances of preventing such attacks are close to zero,” the official concluded.

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