Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Jerusalem truck attacker who killed four Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) soldiers on Sunday (8 January) was a supporter of the Islamic State (Isis) terror group.
During a visit to the scene of the incident, the PM said that there could be a connection between the attacks that took place in Berlin and Nice – responsibility for which were claimed by IS .
The man, allegedly responsible for the Jerusalem attack, was killed by police. He was identified as Fadi al-Qanbar from the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jabal Mukabar. According to reports, he rammed his truck into a crowd gathered near the Armon Hanatziv Promenade overlooking the walled Old City of Jerusalem.
A dozen people were injured, while three female and a male solider were killed in the incident. The IDF identified the four soldiers who died in the attack as Yael Yekutiel (20), Shir Hajaj (22), Erez Orbach (20) and Shira Tzur (20).
The IDF also tweeted that Hamas had lauded the truck attacker, calling the carnage "heroic".
Hazaem Qassem, spokesman for the Izz Ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades — Hamas' military wing – wrote on Facebook that "the continuous operations in the West Bank and Jerusalem prove that the Jerusalem Intifada is not an isolated event, but rather a decision by the Palestinian people to revolt until they attain their freedom and liberation from the Israeli occupation", according to The Times of Israel.
Meanwhile, the prime minister and Defence Minister Avigdor Liberman visited the crime scene and watched the footage of the attack that was captured on CCTV cameras.
Terming the incident a "vicious and tragic terror attack", Netanyahu said: "We know the identity of the attacker and according to all the signs he is a supporter of the Islamic State.
"I have just come from a meeting with the defence minister, the chief of staff, the head of the Shin Bet and others about steps we need to take. We know that these are a series of attacks and there definitely could be a link between them, from France to Berlin, and now Jerusalem."
The attack on a Christmas market in Berlin took place last month, killing 12 people and leaving dozens more injured. A similar attack was carried out in Nice, France in July 2016 during Bastille Day celebrations, which claimed the lives of 84 people.
Talking about the Berlin, Nice and Jerusalem attacks being inspired by the Islamist group, the defence minister said that the only reason for the attack on Jerusalem was because "we are Jews living here in the State of Israel" and it was "not because of Jewish settlements and not because of the peace talks", The Times of Israel reported.
Netanyahu said that authorities had imposed a closure on the Jabel Mukabar neighborhood of East Jerusalem, where the attacker came from. He added that other steps were being taken to deal with the situation, but did not elaborate on the attacker being linked to Isis militants.
"We will overcome this terror, just as we overcame other attacks. There are a number of actions that we will not specify at this time, which we will have to take to ensure that incidents such as these do not recur," the Jerusalem Post quoted the prime minister as saying.
According to local media reports, al-Qanbar was in his late 20s, married with four children, and had served time in Israeli prison. He is believed to have purchased the truck recently.