Police: Terrorist 'apparently acted alone,' was a drug felon

The east Jerusalem Palestinian responsible for Wednesday's murderous bulldozer rampage in the capital acted alone and was not part of a terrorist organization, police said. Husam Taysir Dwayat, 30, was familiar to law enforcement due to previous criminal activities, mainly drug felonies, as well as furniture theft, said a Jerusalem Police spokesman. Dwayat lived in the village of Sur Bahir near Jebl Mukaber, also home to the Palestinian gunman who shot dead eight students at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in March. Dwayat was married with two children. "We had no warning over this attack," said Police Insp.-Gen. David Cohen, who arrived on the scene to inspect the carnage on Jaffa Street. "Jerusalem is a city which is constantly under threat." Police raised the level of alert across the country in the hours following the attack, due to concern that the killing spree could ignite further terrorist activity. "We are operating in the village [of Sur Bahir] and are trying to see if accomplices are involved," said Jerusalem District Police Chief Cmdr. Ilan Franco, who also arrived on the scene of the attack. "The investigation will involve officers entering the home of the terrorist." Franco said the inhabitants of east Jerusalem "are Israeli residents, and that is how we look upon them." A police source added that police do not distinguish between the eastern and western sections of the city, and said that policy would not change following the attack. "We operate year-round in east Jerusalem, tackling both criminal activity and terrorism... [but] there is no difference in the status of east Jerusalem from the rest of the city," the source said. It was up to the government to initiate any changes to east Jerusalem's standing, he added, hinting that police were powerless to change security practices until that happened. "East Jerusalem is part of the undivided capital," former Jerusalem police chief Cmdr. (ret.) Mickey Levy told The Jerusalem Post. "The residents there have blue ID cards and they must be treated with respect and granted full rights. Unfortunately, there are hostile fringe elements in this group which carry out these terrible crimes - but that should not be used to tar everyone," he added. Levy said the failure to tear down the home of Alaa Abu Dhein, the Mercaz Harav gunman, could have prompted Wednesday's attack. "We should have demolished that house. Maybe that could have prevented it," Levy said. "The fact that we did not destroy the house could have sent a signal to today's terrorist that he could go ahead and attack and nothing would happen to his family." Levy did not believe the rampage would inspire future copycat terror attacks. "This was a sporadic attack - I don't believe we'll see more of this," he said. Addressing Dwayat's criminal background, Levy said terrorist abettors and perpetrators are typically linked to criminal activities in east Jerusalem. "The criminals are the easiest to recruit. They're the most likely to aid terrorists who come from outside of Jerusalem." Still, he added, this appeared to be "a local act by an individual." "Security forces have to look at what caused him to do it. This attack reminds us of the [Palestinian] bus driver who ran down soldiers in Azor [killing eight people in 2001]," Levy said. Meanwhile, police strongly denied claims that officers who initially engaged the terrorist were ineffective in stopping him. A preliminary evaluation held by Jerusalem police on Wednesday found that three police officers had attempted to stop the driver before he was eventually shot dead by Special Patrol Unit officer Eli Mizrahi, who was dispatched to the scene on a motorbike. But a video of the final moments of the attack shows a soldier in civilian clothing shooting Dwayat from close range with a handgun while standing outside the cabin. Only then is Mizrahi seen firing a number of rounds into the slumped body of the terrorist. "The police killed him. It was police officers who struggled with him. The civilian fired once at the terrorist," a Jerusalem police spokesman insisted. A police source said the question of who fired the bullet that killed Dwayat was one for the coroner to answer.