Bulldozer driver's relatives: It was accident; Police: It wasn't

Uncle in Beit Hanina insists nephew "was not political or anything."

tractor terror ariel 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
tractor terror ariel 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Relatives and neighbors of Beit Hanina resident Mar'i al-Rdaidah insist that the 26-year-old freelance construction worker did not intend to commit a terrorist attack when he was called to a job Thursday afternoon. Al-Rdaidah, who had a West Bank ID and was not allowed to cross into West Jerusalem, simply had "a car accident," they said. One of his neighbors suggested that the incident may have happened after he panicked from seeing police in the area. "He went to make a living for the children" in his extended family, said his uncle Amin Mahmoud al-Rdaidah, 33, from a home where more than 20 male relatives gathered late Thursday evening to pay their condolences at the uncle's house on the outskirts of Beit Hanina. "He was not political or anything. He didn't even deal with these kind of things," his uncle said. "It was a car accident and nothing more." The family is originally from the West Bank village of Abadiya, near Bethlehem, but they had lived in Beit Hanina for about 40 years, he added, insisting that the family was not interested in political affairs. But Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said there is no doubt that al-Rdaidah "clearly, intentionally rammed [the bulldozer] into the police car and tried to slam that police car afterwards onto a bus." Police obtained footage of the incident, which was captured on closed-circuit television. "It was very clear the intentions of the terrorist and the motives," Rosenfeld said, noting the attack was about 500 meters from the largest mall in Jerusalem. Police took the suspected attacker's wife, his father, another uncle, and two brothers into questioning on Thursday, the uncle said. The suspect had one son, who is a year-and-a-half old. "He loved all of us... He loved his neighbors. He loved people. It's normal," al-Rdaidah's uncle said. Neighbor Khaled al-Natshe agreed, saying al-Rdaidah didn't have any nationalistic inclination. He became slightly annoyed and reprimanded a reporter who asked several guests whether they believed it was an attack or an accident. "You can see the modest situation they were living in," he said. "He is a man who went to work, came back from work... he was in an accident."