'Attacker a murderer, not a terrorist'

Terrorist's family, attorney claim Dwayat didn't carry out terror attack, wish full recovery to those wounded.

Dwayat 224 88 (photo credit: AP)
Dwayat 224 88
(photo credit: AP)
Taysir Dwayat, father of Husam Taysir Dwayat, the 30-year-old east Jerusalem man who carried out Wednesday's terrorist attack in the capital, spoke to Channel 2 news on Thursday night, and denied that his son had carried out a terrorist attack. "We are very sorry for the dead," he said, "and wish a full recovery to the wounded." Dwayat emphasized that the incident yesterday was an accident and not a terrorist attack. Earlier on Thursday evening Dwayat's brother told Channel 10 news that he too was "very sorry about what happened." Also claiming that Dwayat was "a murderer and not a terrorist" was his family's attorney, Shimon Kukush. Dwayat "went berserk and ran over everyone in his vicinity," Kukush told Israel Radio on Thursday morning, pointing out that "We're talking about the center of Jerusalem, and Arab residents could have been there as well. He could have killed anyone and there is no evidence that it was terrorism." According to Kukush, Dwayat's family was "hurting and aching" over their son's action and condemns the killing of innocents. He insisted that Dwayat had not been sent by any organization. "Minutes before the attack he was eating with a group of coworkers and did not show any signs that anything was about to happen. But then he went amok." "The prime minister and the defense minister are sparring for the credit of who will demolish the family's house first, even before it is clear if he was a terrorist," Kukush continued, adding that he had the sense "that there is an indictment by the State of Israel against Arab Israelis." Dwayat, a father of two from the Sur Bahir neighborhood in the city's southeast, once lived with a Jewish woman, his relatives told The Jerusalem Post. According to the relatives, the fact that he had lived with a Jewish woman showed that Dwayat was not an extremist. "[The Jewish woman] lived with him in Sur Bahir," said one relative. Although the woman's family refused to have contact with him, "he was on good terms with many Jews with whom he used to work," another relative said. Residents expressed surprise at the identity of the terrorist. Dwayat did not belong to any political faction, they said. "He was not a member of Hamas or Fatah," said a man who knew him very well. "He was never part of any political framework." A neighbor who asked not to be identified told the Post that Dwayat was known for his involvement in criminal, and not political, activities. "In the past he got into trouble with the law," he said. "I think his problems started while he was still with the Jewish wife. Some people say he was a drug addict." Shortly after the midday attack, police raided Dwayat's home and arrested his father and one of his brothers. Zuhier Hamdan, one of the mukhtars of Sur Bahir, also said he and most people in the neighborhood were surprised when they heard that Dwayat was behind the attack. "He's the last person you would think would do such a thing," Hamdan told the Post. "He was an ordinary young man who was never involved in anti-Israel activities." Hamdan said he was convinced that the attack was a personal initiative and that Dwayat did not act on behalf of any Palestinian group. As for the motive, Hamdan said he and Dwayat's family did not rule out the possibility that haredi teenagers had assaulted him before the attack. "There's a rumor going on that some haredi students had thrown stones at him and cursed him at the construction site before the attack," Hamdan said. "Perhaps he was so angry that he decided to go on a rampage." Hamdan said that while he condemned the killing of innocent civilians, he was also concerned about the "pressure" that the Jerusalem Municipality and the Israeli authorities were exerting on residents of Sur Bahir in particular and east Jerusalem in general. "Many people in Sur Bahir and other Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem are angry because of the demolition of illegally built houses," he said. "They are also angry with the taxes imposed on them. Almost every second resident of Sur Bahir is facing a financial crisis because of the heavy taxes and lack of jobs." Another Sur Bahir chief expressed fear that Wednesday's attack would prompt the authorities to toughen their measures against the Arab residents of Jerusalem. "Each time an Arab from Jerusalem carries out an attack, some Israeli politicians start inciting against all the Arabs," he said. "The Israelis need to understand that the majority of Jerusalem Arabs are peaceful people." He also complained that Israel's refusal to grant citizenship to thousands of Arabs in the city was another reason why many of them were angry. "About 40,000 Arabs have applied for Israeli citizenship over the past few years," he said. "But the Israeli authorities are refusing to approve their applications."