Eight wounded in Jerusalem bus shooting attack; suspect turns himself in
Eight people were wounded in a shooting attack in Jerusalem on Sunday, including a pregnant woman force to deliver an emergency birth. A 26-year-old East Jerusalem resident has turned himself in at a police station in the city six hours after the attack.
The gunman opened fire on a bus carrying Jewish worshippers near the Western Wall, seriously wounding two riders, including a 26-weeks-pregnant woman.
The suspect was identified as Amir Sidawi, an East Jerusalem resident who holds Israeli citizenship and served five years in prison over a stabbing attack. He is not affiliated with any organized group and while police estimate that he was acting alone, a senior officer expressed concern that the manhunt will inspire copycat attacks.
According to a police source, the police and Shin Bet discovered the attacker’s identity at around 4 A.M., and began to gather around his home in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, as well as the addresses of his family members living in the area. The attacker tried to ask for help from relatives but realized that the police were closing in on him. He ultimately took a taxi to the Moriah police station, the source said, where he turned himself in.
A taxi driver who drove Sidawi without knowing he was the assailant told Galey Israel Radio: “He stopped me on the street, asked me if I was available, spoke good Hebrew and got in. I noticed he was a little scared. I dropped him off at the police and suddenly after I drove 400 meters away (1300 ft.), police cars came behind me.”
The driver added that the policeman told him “God loves you”. He turned around and saw the gun with the bullets in the back seat. “I could have gotten a bullet in the head. A miracle happened to me.”
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said that security forces were working to catch the “despicable terrorist,” and that they “will not stop until he is caught. All those who wish us ill shall know that they will pay a price for hurting civilians.”
“I stopped the bus at the King David’s Tomb station, the bus was full. We opened the ramp for someone on a wheelchair, and then the shooting started. Everyone got down on the floor, screaming. I tried to escape, but the bus couldn’t drive with the ramp open,” the bus driver, Daniel Kanievsky, told Kan public radio.
Among the wounded is a family of four from Brooklyn, New York. The father is hospitalized in serious condition and under ventilation.
“We can confirm that U.S. citizens were among the victims. We are gathering further information. Due to privacy concerns, we will not have further comment,” the U.S. Embassy spokesperson said.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and the Al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades praised the attack. It is “a natural response to the aggression of the occupation soldiers and the crimes of the settlers against the Palestinian people and the holy places,” the Hamas’ spokesperson said.
Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai praised the security forces for their fruitful collaboration that led to the capture of the assailant. “The moment the terrorist realized that the high presence of combined forces of the Jerusalem District, Border Police and the Shin Bet, would leave him no choice, he turned himself in.”
Reuters contributed to this report.