The first time it seemed like a freak attack: an anomaly separate from time and place. The second, it was a nightmare. Now it has happened again.
Israeli news reported today what appears to be the third terrorist attack with a bulldozer in the last eight months. Driver Mir'i Radeideh rammed a bulldozer into a bus and police car on the corner of Menachem Begin Boulevard and Golomb Street in Jerusalem. Sources at the Jerusalem Post say:
Witnesses described a harrowing sight of the towering yellow front loader speeding along the highway, dragging the police car, flipping it into the air and trying to crush it with its front shovel.
A video of security camera footage and a slideshow of the scene are available on the site.
Two police were “lightly wounded” and several witnesses, including many children, were taken to the hospital to be treated for shock. The driver was shot to death.
Radeideh, 26, was the married father of a young girl. The owner of the bulldozer, he was a resident of Beit-Hanina in East Jerusalem and the bearer of a Palestinian passport. His family, who was questioned immediately thereafter, claimed that Radeideh was a religious man with little interest in the politics of terror. His mother told Israeli television:
We are waiting for him to return home… He is only interested in religion, he doesn't know what terror attacks are, they don't interest him.
Another family member called Radeideh “a normal person who did not hold extremist views.”
July 2008 saw the first two bulldozer attacks, resulting in a total of three people dead and 48 injured. Both bulldozer drivers were residents of East Jerusalem.
As this news is just breaking, the Israeli blogosphere has only begun to respond. In a post entitled “Through Kefiyah Colored Glasses,” Treppenwitz's David Bogner cites the BBC's headline “Digger Driver Shot Dead In Jerusalem” and writes:
Memo to UK Jews: What the hell are you waiting for? Get out while you still can!
Jameel at The Muqata points out similarities in how all three attacks ended.
This is tractor attack #3 in Jerusalem in the past year, plus a car ramming attack near Jaffa street and the Merkaz Harav terror attack [see link below]. In all of the above cases, civilians actively took part in neutralizing the terrorist.
Yael of Aliyah! Step-By-Step is following the story as it is reported. She relays that the bulldozer driver was foiled by a fallen electrical pole, which impeded his progress. His demise was apparently at the hand of a civilian cab driver, who fired the first shots to slow him down. (News reports still differ on this detail; more information will come to light shortly.)
Listening to the radio every five seconds the details of the terrorist attack that took place an hour ago in Jerusalem changed… The tractor attempted to try to flip the bus which was not empty but rather filled will little girls in Purim costumes [see link below] on their way to cheer up patients at the Hadassah Hospital for the holiday.
Fortunately for the children, a fallen electrical post prevented the tractor from flipping over the bus. The electrical post being in the way gave the schoolgirls time to get out of the bus to safety. ZAKA operation commander Haim Weinrot said that “the girls were hysterical. They saw the enormous scoop heading toward them and saw death approaching, but they were saved at the last minute by the post.” Several of the children were treated for shock at the scene.
In response to this third attack, police are studying the records of all bulldozer drivers and owners within Jerusalem's environs. “This is not the kind of attack we can anticipate to thwart in advance,” said one.
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