Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas declared that the current wave of violence, which has seen at least 21 Israelis killed, is a “justified popular uprising.”
The violence which began at the start of October has consisted mainly of stabbings and vehicle attacks on Israelis.
In the latest attack on Monda, a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem drove his car into a crowd of commuters at a bus stop, injuring 14 people including a 15-month-old baby.
Abbas has been accused by Israeli leaders of stoking the violence with incendiary rhetoric, especially over the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which is holy to Muslims and Jews.
Despite numerous public denials by Israeli leaders, Abbas continues to claim that Israel is trying to alter the status quo which allows only Muslim prayer at the site. He has also accused Israel of “executing” Palestinians who have been shot and killed by Israeli forces as they have carried out knife or vehicle attacks.
Abbas said that the attacks were a “justified popular uprising” and were being “driven by despair at the fact that a two-state solution is not coming.” In response, Israel Prime Minister’s Spokesman Mark Regev said “There can never be justification for wanton attacks on civilians.”
A poll published by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research indicated that 67 per cent of Palestinians support knife attacks against Israelis. The survey also found that 66 percent of those asked (71 percent in the Gaza Strip and 63 percent in the West Bank) said that an armed intifada would “serve Palestinian national interests in ways that negotiations could not.” The poll also suggested that 65 per cent of Palestinian want Abbas to resign.
Monday’s attack happened near the city’s central bus station, a busy commuter area. The car, driven by 21-year-old Abed Almohsin Hassoneh from Beit Hanina in East Jerusalem, ploughed into a group of people at a bus stop. However, before Hassoneh could exit the vehicle, a member of the security services, a security guard and a civilian arrived on the scene and shot him dead. Searching his car, Israeli security personnel discovered an axe, indicating that Hassoneh intended to continue the attack and cause additional harm. All of the wounded were swiftly evacuated to hospital and the injured baby is in danger of having a limb amputated.
The fact that the attacker’s car was found to have an axe and a screwdriver in it indicated that he had also intended to try to stab people, police said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, speaking at the scene of the attack, urged the city’s residents to be on the alert for further attacks, but also stressed the need to “go on with your daily routine, and not let the terrorists win.”
Barkat added that the municipality will soon install protective posts to prevent car-rammings at bus stops in the city, focusing on areas where there is the greatest risk of attacks.