A Palestinian driver yelled ‘Allahu Akbar’ (God is great) and there was an explosion, said police officer Moshe Chen who foiled a car bombing attack on the road to Jerusalem early Sunday morning.
“You always hear of terrorist attacks and suddenly I was in one, boom, that’s how it is,” the lightly wounded police offer told reporters as he lay in a hospital bed in Sha’are Tzedek Medical Center.
The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said the woman attempted to ignite a gas tank in her car with flammable materials and then tried to exit the vehicle. Other than the gas tank, there was no explosive device in her vehicle.
Security forces found handwritten notes in her possession that contained messages of support for “martyrs,” the Shin Bet said.
Chen said he first noted her vehicle as he drove toward the A-Zaim junction outside the Ma’aleh Adumim settlement and thought it seemed suspicious.
A woman sat in the driver’s seat, but there were no other passengers in the car, even though she was driving in the commuter lane, which is designated for buses or groups of three or more people, he said.
Chen said he continued to drive but her car moved closer and closer to his vehicle, as if to catch up with it, in a way that made him nervous.
“I felt that something was wrong,” Chen said.
He was able to stop her car, exit his and speak with her.
“As luck would have it, I was wearing a flak jacket,” he said.
“I told her that she had violated a traffic regulation, but she seemed not to understand what was happening. She spoke in Arabic and then she said, ‘Allahu Akbar’ and I saw that some smoke was coming out of the car,” Chen said.
Initially, he said he thought something had possibly caught fire in the car and contemplated getting a fire extinguisher to put it out, when there was an explosion.
“It was then that I understood she was a terrorist,” he said.
“People tried to offer help. I asked them to stay away because there was a terrorist,” Chen said.
“Some of them had weapons and I told them not to shoot at the woman. She was wounded and did not pose a danger. I called for more police and security forces to come to the scene,” he said.
Photographs in the first moments of the incident show the woman on the ground on the road along with Chen.
In a tape recording of the call Chen made to the police dispatcher, Chen can be heard slightly breathless describing the situation and asking for help.
“I am on the road in the direction of the A-Zaim junction from the Adumim junction. A woman drove alone in the public transportation lane. I saw her acting suspiciously, she yelled ‘Allahu akbar’ [‘God is great’]. It seems as if she has set off a device. I am lightly wounded, the terrorist is on the ground, the car is burnt, it was going to burn, someone there put out the fire with a fire extinguisher.
“I don’t know if I am lightly wounded, I am in shock, I have suffered some burns,” Chen added. “The device went off, she detonated the device.”
The terrorist was seriously injured in the attack and was evacuated to hospital in Jerusalem with burns to her entire body, Magen David Adom said. The police officer suffered burns to his upper body and was evacuated to hospital with light injuries and in stable condition.
In the hospital, Chen told reporters,“I could have died, but I am here, healthy and whole. I am very emotional,” Chen said while explaining that he has four children.
“My son told me that his father is a hero,” he said.
“I lived through the first intifada and the second intifada and now this one,” he said, adding, “I hope it ends soon.”
The Shin Bet later said that woman who ignited a blast in her vehicle was a 31-year-old resident of east Jerusalem, who divided her time between Jericho and the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabal Mukabar. She had no know security offenses or arrests.
Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the Palestinian Authority security forces, however, accused the Israel Police of “fabricating” the story about the car.
He said an official investigation conducted by the PA showed that the woman’s car had been intercepted by an Israeli police vehicle.
“When the woman stopped the car, the airbag in front of the driver’s seat suddenly went off,” Damiri claimed. “The policeman saw this as an excuse to open fire at the woman when she tried to get out of the car. That’s why the Israel Police fabricated the story, which is a lie and misleading.”
Later in the afternoon, Palestinians threw stones at the same area of the road, lightly wounding a 25-year-old man.
In the evening, President Reuven Rivlin came to Ma’aleh Adumim to inaugurate a new cultural center.
“The State of Israel faces a situation in which the home front has become very much the front-line. We cannot allow terror to dictate our lives. We will neither waiver nor rest until we return calm and quiet to the streets of Jerusalem, to the streets of all of Israel and to all its citizens,” Rivlin said.
“The flourishing culture in Israel, not least of which the inauguration of this cultural center here in Ma’aleh Adumim, is the ultimate answer to terror. We will succeed because of our belief, our belief in building and in action. I offer my support to the residents – your determination strengthens all of us,” he said.