'He really didn't hate Jews'

Jewish mother of bulldozer terrorist's child speaks out.

Dwayat mom 224 ap (photo credit: AP)
Dwayat mom 224 ap
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian who went on a deadly rampage on Jerusalem's Jaffa Road last week fathered the child of an Israeli Jewish woman, who is now seven years old. Dwayat, 30, crushed three people to death and wounded dozens Wednesday with the massive earth moving vehicle he used in his job at a nearby construction site. He smashed through traffic, drove over cars and flipped a crowded city bus on its side. Dwayat was married to a Palestinian woman, Jamileh, 20, with whom he had two young sons, ages five and three. But a previous girlfriend was a Jewish Israeli, who at one point even stayed with Dwayat's parents for a month and a half, said his mother-in-law, Hoda Dabash. "They were engaged, until her family took her away. They didn't like him," Dabash told the Associated Press. The former girlfriend, identified only as S., told Israeli media that her relationship with Dwayat began 12 years ago and lasted more than five years. In an interview published Friday in Yediot Aharonot, she said Dwayat fathered her son shortly before the relationship ended. She said she did not believe his attack was motivated by extremism. "He really didn't hate Jews. The fact is that he was with me. It's insanity, but the motivation was not nationalistic," the woman told Yediot. "The problem was that he smoked a lot of drugs. Maybe it's because of that." They broke up because Dwayat became abusive, the woman said. "He would really hit me hard, but I still loved him. I was willing to convert to Islam for him," she said. She said she eventually pressed charges and he served time in jail. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed the man had served time in prison, but would not say for how long or on what charges. The two had not been in contact since a few months after she gave birth, she said, adding that the child did not know Dwayat was his father. Instead, she registered him as the son of a man whom she subsequently married and divorced. The woman lives with the child in a West Bank settlement near Jerusalem, the paper reported. The newspaper did not explain why it did not identify her. But it was likely she maintained anonymity to protect herself and her son from anyone who might be outraged by their relationship to the attacker. The woman's story appeared to corroborate other descriptions of Dwayat that portrayed him as distant from the typical profile of an ideologically motivated attacker. The Israelis who stopped Dwayat's attack by shooting him heard Dwayat shout "God is great," an Arabic phrase used by Islamic militants as a battle cry. But there has been no indication that Dwayat was connected to any terrorist group, and the usual trappings of premeditated terror attacks, like a videotaped last testament, were absent. Residents of his neighborhood, Sur Bahir, described Dwayat as an unpopular troublemaker with drug problems. None of the residents would allow their full names to be published to avoid being seen as insulting the family. "He was just stupid and he didn't understand anything. He had family problems and he just made problems for others," said one neighborhood resident, giving his name only as Moussa. Another neighbor who would identify himself only as Mr. Shehade, 52, described him as having a short temper. "He didn't have any friends, he was very remote, didn't go to the mosque, drank and took drugs," he said. The morning after the attack, female relatives began shouting "martyr" outside Dwayat's home, but his father, Taysir, quickly silenced them. Taysir told Maariv that his son was a drug addict and not a "terrorist." In the past, some in east Jerusalem have played down the possibility of nationalist motives for fear of retribution from Israeli authorities. On Friday, defense officials said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the military to prepare to demolish Dwayat's home and the home of another east Jerusalem attacker who killed eight Jewish seminary students in a shooting spree in March. Separately, Yediot reported Friday that the off-duty soldier who shot and killed the attacker was the second cousin of Batsheva Unterman, 33, who was one of three Israelis crushed to death during the rampage. Unterman's five-month-old baby, Efrat, survived the attack. The off-duty soldier, who cannot be identified by court order, is also related to the off-duty officer who shot and killed the terrorist in the March shooting attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva.