Beit-Hanina resident Mar'i al-Rdaidah, the Palestinian driver who rammed a bulldozer into a bus and a police car on a Jerusalem highway Thursday, drove the construction vehicle unhindered through the city to the scene of the attack, Channel 2 reported.Having ties to terror groups is not what's relevant here - it's that he did it in the name of the Religion of Peace that is. And his family should be ashamed of themselves for pretending that their ROP had nothing to do with it.
Two police officers were lightly wounded in the attack before Rdaidah was shot dead in the latest in a string of attacks by Palestinian terrorists using heavy machinery against Israeli civilian targets. (Click here for security camera footage of the attack)
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.
According to the television channel, the bulldozer used in the attack was listed under Rdaidah's name.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said it wasn't clear whether the man worked on his own or was affiliated with a terror group.
However, the family of 26-year-old Rdaidah, who was married and had a young daughter, said they believed the incident was an accident and not a deliberate act of terror.
"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," his mother told Channel 10.
In the afternoon, policeman Eldad Bin-Nun, who helped neutralize the terrorist, gave Channel 10 his account of the incident. "We were in the area by chance and were waiting at a red light when we noticed the tractor in the opposite lane, to our left, trying to slam the police car into the bus," he said.It's a good thing that nobody save for the terrorist died this time. I fully agree with the mayor: the incoming government must do more to prevent terror attacks like these from happening.
"We stopped the police car and I ran toward the tractor, firing several shots at the driver from the vehicle's left side until he slumped to the right. I then ran to the bulldozer's other side and noticed he [the terrorist] was trying to sit up, so I fired at him again. Several moments later another policeman arrived, and he fired three more shots at the driver from an M-16 rifle," Bin-Nun told the television channel.
One witness, a taxi driver identified as "Dor," told Israel Radio that he chased the driver as he witnessed the attack.
"I saw the police car fly into the air. He flipped it over twice, then continued dragging it toward a bus that was stuck in traffic," he said.
He told the station that he had fired four shots at the man, wounding him. "Then a policeman came with his M-16 and finally finished him off," he added.
Police, MDA and ZAKA forces streamed to the scene minutes later, after police received emergency calls telling them that a bulldozer was trying to run over a police vehicle.
An initial police investigation indicated that the bulldozer driver reached the intersection near Teddy Stadium and managed to push a police vehicle for about 30 meters. After that, he tried to push the police vehicle into a bus, but was apparently blocked by an electrical post.
According to ZAKA, the bus was full of girls dressed in Purim costumes en route to Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital to cheer up patients before the holiday.
A number of bystanders suffering from shock were treated on the scene by MDA teams.
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. It is a Purim miracle."
Within half an hour of the attack, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat was on the scene to personally inspect the situation.
"The attack targeted us for no reason other than the fact that we live in Jerusalem. This was an attack carried out exclusively for the purpose of harming civilians," he said.
Barkat said he expected the government to approve harsher punishment of terrorists.
"The policy toward those who want to hurt us should combine strict punishment to create effective deterrence, quickly neutralizing the attackers, and returning to our routine lives as soon a possible following an attack," the Jerusalem mayor said.
Barkat gave the two policemen and the civilian who helped kill the terrorists the Lion Pin, bearing the city's emblem, and thanked them for their heroic behavior.
He went on to vow that "everyone involved in the attack" would be brought to justice.
The attack is the third of its kind in less than a year. At the beginning of last July, a bulldozer plowed into a number of vehicles on Jaffa Street, near the Mahane Yehuda market in the capital. Four people were killed in that incident, including the terrorist.
Three weeks later, another bulldozer driver went on a rampage in Jerusalem, aiming his vehicle at an Egged bus near the King David hotel. He wounded 15 people before being shot and killed.