Thursday, July 3, 2008

The by-now Infamous Jerusalem Rampage

Yesterday in Jerusalem, a Palestinian construction worker took his bulldozer on a rampage down Jaffa street, killing three people and wounding dozens. This event occurred more or less right in front of the Jerusalem office of the Associated Press so it was caught on tape from multiple angles.

The first press reports on the incident were understandably contradictory. The number of people killed and injured, which group was responsible for the attack, how the driver was stopped: these facts were all hotly debated but no two sources could agree with each other. One day later, with all the video footage compiled, some of these questions can be answered, but some still have not.

You can see in the above video, beginning at 2:35, off-duty soldier Moshe Plesser firing into the cabin of the bulldozer and killing the driver.

Now the biggest question is: who is responsible for the attack? Immediately following the rampage, several small terrorist organizations claimed responsibility, but none of these claims have been credible. Police investigators believe the driver, Hussam Duwiyat, was acting alone. His family says he was a petty criminal and a drug addict who just snapped. This claim is not without strings, however. It is Israeli policy to demolish the homes of suicide terrorists and deny their families insurance payouts as a method of deterring suicide attacks. Many of these "martyrs" are motivated by poverty and desperation and are told by the organizations that plan the attacks that their family will be taken care of, which is often more than the martyr can promise to provide while alive.

Duwiyat had been recently released from an Israeli prison. He served two years for rape.

An interesting tidbit, which may or may not prove to be significant, is that the two major players in yesterday's drama were related to the two major players in a similar drama four months ago. Back in March, a Palestinian gunman entered a Jerusalem yeshiva (religious school) and opened fire, killing 8 people. The soldier who shot him was David Shapira, who is the brother-in-law of Moshe Plesser, who killed yesterdays bulldozer driver, Duwiyat. Duwiyat was the neighbor of the yeshiva gunman.

However, in Israel, these kinds of coincidences are not at all unusual. Instead of six degrees of separation, one can usually expect to make a connection within one or two.

It has not been decided whether Duwiyat's home will be demolished, but I can imagine that proponents of this plan will find poetic justice in using yesterday's bulldozer to do it.

Bilha says:
First of all, look, how he got the job? What a situation we are in, here. We have to give them jobs, I mean...they are Israeli citizens."
Security experts say these kinds of individual terrorist attacks are almost impossible to prevent. Palestinians with Israeli identity cards speak fluent Hebrew, move about Israel freely, and have access to weapons. The Shin Bet (Israeli intelligence) has, however, had success in preventing attacks by organizations.

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