A three-month-old girl, identified by her grandfather as Chaya Zissel, was killed and several US citizens and Israelis were wounded Wednesday evening when a convicted Palestinian terrorist from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan rammed his vehicle into a crowd of people in the capital.
The attack, which was captured by a security camera, took place at the Ammunition Hill light-rail stop a few hundred meters from Israel’s national police headquarters, situated across a densely traveled thoroughfare, shortly after 6 p.m., a senior police official said.
The terrorist was shot by police and late Wednesday evening he died in hospital.
“The vehicle ran over a number of people, including several Americans, as they exited the train, and the suspect was shot when he attempted to flee the scene by foot,” the official said, requesting anonymity until the US State Department confirms the American casualties.
“Nine people were injured, three seriously, including an American infant who died after sustaining critical injuries,” he continued.
The official described the suspect as a convicted terrorist who served a recent prison sentence in Israel, but did not indicate whether he was released during the 2011 Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange or last year’s release of more than 70 convicted Palestinian terrorists during peace negotiations.
All the victims of the attack were transported to area hospitals for treatment, he said.
Following the attack, US State Department deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said she could not confirm or deny the citizenship of the victims and urged restraint while calling on all parties to “maintain calm” as US and Israeli officials continue to gather facts about the incident.
The attack comes two days after nine Israeli families moved into the suspect’s Arab neighborhood amid ongoing Palestinian rioting and international condemnation.
Meanwhile, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, whose administration has been beleaguered by chronic violence in the capital since June, issued a statement describing Wednesday’s murder as intolerable.
“We must restore peace and security in Jerusalem,” he said.
“As I have said for months, the situation in Jerusalem is intolerable and we must act unequivocally against all violence taking place in the city.
“Today, more than ever, it is clear that we must send police forces into neighborhoods where there are disturbances, placing them strategically and widely in significant numbers,” he continued. The mayor added that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has given instructions to reinforce police units in east Jerusalem “to implement an operational action plan formulated to deal with riots, including the addition of personnel and special units, using technological means and increased intelligence.”
“I will continue to be vigilant, and we will not rest until security is restored in Jerusalem,” Barkat said.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said rioting ensued in Isawiya and Silwan shortly after the terrorist attack.
“Police units have been dispatched and have contained the rioting,” Rosenfeld said at 10 p.m., adding that no injuries were reported.
Police issued a statement on Wednesday night saying that Police Insp.-Gen. Yohanan Danino had met earlier with the heads of the Jerusalem district police and all top police operational branches and ordered that a special security plan approved Wednesday morning for Jerusalem go into effect immediately.
They added that police will deploy officers across the city at flash points and based on real-time intelligence, and that they will work together with all security agencies and do whatever it takes in order return peace and quiet to the city. They also vowed to find any other people involved in Wednesday’s attack.
Chaya Zissel’s funeral was held on midnight on Wednesday in Jerusalem.Ben Hartman and Michael Wilner contributed to this report.