WASHINGTON -- Three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, the baby girl killed today in Jerusalem during a vehicular terrorist attack, was an American citizen, a US official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday night.
The girl was thrown from her stroller as a car swerved into the Ammunition Hill light rail station, injuring seven others.
State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf has "urged restraint" and calm from both sides after the attack.
"The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem," State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an evening statement. "We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack, and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured. We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident."
The suspected perpetrator has alleged ties to Hamas, Israeli officials say.
"This is a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and invasion of our land by the Jews," Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran said in response to the attack.
'A pure girl with a holy soul'
His grandaughter flew 10-20 meters in the air before landing headfirst on the pavement, Shimshon Halperin said Wednesday night.
Standing outside Hadassah University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus, after Chaya had died of intracranial bleeding Halperin explained how the driver from Silwan rammed a row of pedestrians, hitting Chaya’s stroller and sending her flying.
He then went on to describe the last hours of her short life.
“They had just returned from the Kotel [Western Wall]. It was the first time in her life that the girl was at the Kotel. They [her parents] took pictures, they held her up to face the Temple Mount, and they told her this is the holy place, this is the Temple Mount,” said Halperin, an Israeli who has lived for the last 40 years in the US.
Chaya had been born after her parents had tried for years to have a baby to no avail, said Halperin, adding that her parents were in shock, having just learned of her death.
He linked the killing to “the Arabs’ merciless hatred of thousands of years,” saying that they killed “a pure girl with a holy soul, who never did anything bad to anyone in her life and was murdered for no reason.”
Hundreds of people attended the baby's funeral in Jerusalem at midnight on Wednesday, including President Reuven Rivlin and Mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat.
Rivlin delivered a eulogy in which he emphasized that the killers who murdered Chaya Zissel do not distinguish between what type of Jew they are killing.
"They do not distinguish between haredi and secular, settler and leftist, or a Jew in Israel or in the diaspora," he said.
"They [the murderers] understand that what appears to be things that divide us are only illusions. But they also know where to hurt us. They identify very well the things that we value most. They know the great love that we have for innocent babies who are pure and innocent."
Rivlin also said that the terrorists are well aware of the deep bond that the Jews have with Jerusalem.
"But our message must be clear, there will be no power that will distance us from Jerusalem or from the Land of Israel," he said. Jpost.com staff contributed to this report.