Sunday, March 04, 2018

04-Mar-18: Vehicle ramming attacks, two of them, in Israeli Arab Akko

Initial image from the attack scene via Haaretz
Reports coming in around noon today (Sunday) say there has been a pair of Arab-on-Israeli vehicle ramming attacks. Haaretz ["Three Wounded in Suspected Car-rammings in Northern Israeli City of Acre"] says an Israeli Border Guard officer and two soldiers were injured
in suspected car-rammings in two different incidents in the northern Israeli city of Acre. One person was wounded on Yehoshafat St., near the city's outdoor market, and two others by the railway station downtown.
Here's how Times of Israel describes the locations
The first victim was hit by the car outside the Acre city market. The driver then continued toward a train station and hit the other two victims.
Israel National News says
Police emphasize that the background to the incident is still unclear.
Ynet says
According to eyewitnesses, the driver began his rampage after receiving a speeding ticket. Police said they were investigating the matter.
There are varying reports about the attacker's condition but agreement that he was shot by someone Israeli. Haaretz, quoting the police, says the
motivation behind the incident remains unknown.
We've just posted a shocking video via a tweet which makes it hard to believe this was anything other than an attempt to kill Israelis. See it here.

Other reports (we will be adding details) says three Israelis aged 20 were rushed to the Nahariya hospital. Via social media, we hear that two are in light-to-moderately injured condition; one is in critical condition.

Wikipedia says that Acre, usually called Akko or Acco by Israelis, is on
the northern extremity of Haifa Bay. The city occupies an important location, as it sits on the coast of the Mediterranean Sea, traditionally linking the waterways and commercial activity with the Levant. The important land routes meeting here are the north–south one following the coast and the road cutting inland through the Plain of Esdraelon; Acre also benefits from one of the very rare natural harbours on the coast of the Land of Israel. This location helped it become one of the oldest cities in the world, continuously inhabited since the Middle Bronze Age some 4000 years ago. Acre is the holiest city of the Bahá'í Faith, and as such receives many Baha'i pilgrims. In 2016, the population was 47,808. Acre is a mixed city, that includes Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze and Baha'is...
More details about the attacks when we have them.

UPDATE 1:50 pm on Sunday March 4, 2018: Times of Israel says the victims are two IDF soldiers, a Border Guard service person and a civilian in his fifties, and that all are lightly injured. The driver of the attack vehicle, a Hyundai SUV, was shot multiple times and critically wounded. It quotes Israel Radio saying that the driver is an Arab Israeli male from Sh'faram, a city of 40,000 with a Sunni Muslim majority "alongside large Christian and Druze minorities" [Wikipedia] and that the particulars of his identity "could not be immediately confirmed by police".

UPDATE 3:00 pm on Sunday March 4, 2018: Wisely cautious, Times of Israel only now quotes an Israel Police statement that the suspected car-ramming attack in Acre was a “nationalistic attack.” Or in simpler terms, a terror attack. Quote:
“The investigation of the incident, as well as the findings from the scene and documentary materials, indicate that this was a nationalistic attack,” police say. The police statement comes after reports said the driver was angry after receiving a parking ticket.
Few details at this stage about the attacker. It appears a court may have issued a gag order preventing name and background from being published though several sources are currently saying the driver of the Hyundai is a male, an Arab, not from Akko and the bearer of a blue (regular Israeli) identity card. All Israeli citizens are issued, and must carry with them, government-issued ID.

UPDATE 5:00 pm on Sunday March 4, 2018: The Jerusalem Post confirms what we reported earlier - that from the standpoint of the police, this was terrorism:
A gag order was placed on additional details of the incident by police who said that the investigation continues. “This is an extremely serious incident,” said Acre’s Chief Superintendent Yaniv Ronen, adding that “the identity of the driver is known and we are also looking into that.” Unconfirmed reports in Hebrew media stated that the driver was a 51 year-old man from the town of Shfaram.
Shortly after the incident witnesses said that the driver of the jeep had received a parking ticket and had run over the soldiers in anger. “The driver got a ticket for NIS 1,000 ($290) for parking in a handicapped spot. He got pissed off and went up on the sidewalk [and] then struck a traffic light and some bushes and ran over a border guard,” eyewitness Shimon Cohen was quoted by the Ynet news site as saying.
Video footage filmed by a bystander on his phone from outside the market where the border police officer was hit showed the jeep driving onto the curb hitting the officer before he turned around in a possible attempt to hit the officer again. He is then seen fleeing the scene as police arrive and as the officer is seen receiving help from bystanders. Other CCTV footage showed the jeep accelerating before it strikes a soldier who is seen flying through the air as the jeep drives off... MK Zuhair Bahlul (Labor), who lives in Acre, stated that Acre “has always been an example of a strong, values-based city where coexistence and strong neighborly ties exist between its Jewish and Arab residents.” Wishing a speedy recovery to those wounded, Bahlul added that he “hopes and believes that the police investigation will reveal that this was not a deliberate terrorist attack. I call upon all the residents of the city to maintain restraint and patience,” adding that “even in difficult times we in Acre know how to join together to preserve the common fabric of life."
The identity of the rammer is still undisclosed, but the indications are (we think) that he's the injured person in his fifties mentioned by Times of Israel.

As far as we know, no one in the news reporting industry appears to have asked yet whether the driver is about to become a beneficiary of the Fatah/PA/Mahmoud Abbas Rewards for Terror scheme.

UPDATE 8:00 am on Tuesday March 6, 2018: A video clip of a senior doctor, Dr Eli Kakashvili, at Nahariya Hospital where all the injured, including the alleged attacker, are being treated, seems to suggest the driver is a male in his twenties (no longer in critical condition after surgery) and the man in his fifties is an innocent victim. Formal announcements by the security authorities as to who did the ramming and why have not yet been made.

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