The female soldier who was critically wounded in Sunday’s terror attack in Jerusalem has stabilized, but she is still being kept in a medically-induced coma doctors at Shaare Zedek Medical Center said Tuesday. In addition, four soldiers are still hospitalized at Hadassah University Hospital – Ein Karem, including three in moderate condition. Hospital officials said that all four patients are fully conscious.
In the aftermath of the attack, Israel Radio reported more clashes between residents of Jabel Mukaber and police overnight between Monday and Tuesday, and three teenagers were arrested. Also, four residents of the Moslem Quarter of the Old City were arrested for spraying graffiti in praise of the attacker, Fadi al-Qunbar, 28, including a threat that the attack was “Just the beginning of the year 2017.” Police have also arrested nine other people, including five of Qunbar's family members.
On Monday, Jerusalem police demolished a mourning tent adjacent to the home of the driver of a truck that murdered four IDF soldiers Sunday as the funerals for the four victims of yesterday’s terror attack began around the country.
IDF soldiers Erez Orbach of Alon Shvut, Shir Hajaj of Ma’aleh Adumim, Shira Tzur of Haifa and Yael Yekutiel of Givatayim – were laid to rest on Monday at cemeteries in their home towns. Three families asked that media not attend. Three of the four killed were females. Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said three of the slain were cadets and one was an officer. All of the slain victims were in their 20s.
The terrorist may have been an ISIS sympathizer, according to statements issued by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Fox News reported that while speaking from the scene of the attack, on a promenade overlooking the walled Old City of Jerusalem, Netanyahu said authorities have identified the terrorist and "all signs show he is a supporter of the Islamic State."
Earlier, Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told CNN "there are no potential active ISIS cells here in Israel."
"A group had gotten off the bus and were getting organized with their bags when the terrorist took the opportunity, ramming his truck into the group," Rosenfeld said.
"Then he in fact reversed and tried to ram them again until shots were fired, and the terrorist was shot and killed at the scene."
Fox News also reported that in a statement, the State Department condemned the "glorification of terrorism now or at any time" and said "there is absolutely no justification for these brutal and senseless attacks."
Netanyahu said police had sealed off the killer's neighborhood -- a predominately Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem -- while they investigate.
"We know there is a sequence of terror attacks and it's quite possible that there is a connection between them, from France, Berlin and now Jerusalem," Netanyahu said.
In a statement, Jerusalem's mayor, Nir Barkat, said there was "no limit to the cruelty of the terrorists who use every means to murder Jews and damage the routine life in the capital of Israel."
While no group has yet to claim responsibility for the attack, Hamas, the militant fundamentalist Islamic organization, praised the attacker on Twitter.
"We bless the courageous and heroic truck operation in Jerusalem," the group tweeted. "It comes within the context of the normal response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation."
Hamas' goal is the creation of an Islamic fundamentalist Palestinian state and they insist that Israel is an occupying power and must be destroyed.
Meanwhile, on Monday morning, police closed one exit from Jabel Mukaber, the Arab-majority neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem that is adjacent to Armon Hanetziv and was home to the terrorist who ran his truck into a group of soldiers at the Hass Promenade Sunday, in response to rioting and attacks on police officers. Overnight, security forces arrested nine residents of Jabel Mukaber, including five members of the driver’s family.
Families for three of the four victims of the attack asked media not to cover the funerals. But a spokeswoman for Alon Shuvut said that Erez Orbach volunteered for military service despite the fact that IDF doctors exempted him due to a medical condition.
“Erez fought [for the right to] serve in the IDF,” the community said in a statement. “After being rejected by several military exemptions committees, he stood up for himself and for his right to serve.
“Eventually, Erez managed to enlist in the air force and eventually decided to become an officer. He had to fight for this, too, but eventually his determination convinced his officers to approve the move, and he was accepted to the course.”
But Orbach did not consider his service to be unusual. Speaking last year at a ceremony to honor volunteer soldiers, Orbach said that he’d never considered himself a “special case” who needed special consideration. “Of course I never thought I should do any less than everybody else. I knew then, and I know now that I am like everyone… five months ago I enlisted and today I feel like I am doing an important, high-quality service. I get to do things I never imagined I would do and I am involved with things I never imagined even existed.
“I may be a tiny cog in a very large machine, but without that small cog the entire machine may not work properly… I may be tired at the end of the day, but I feel that this is my duty and something that I must contribute,” Orbach said.
Breitbart reported that 20-year-old cadet Shira Tzur of Haifa was remembered as a “remarkable girl.” Her former principal, Mandi Ravinovich, said, “Everyone regarded her as an exemplary graduate – an outstanding girl, a social leader and also emotionally sensitive to justice and injustices.”
“My heart hurts that in this crazy country a soldier in uniform becomes a target for radical Muslim terrorism and we don’t know how to ensure her well-being on the day that she goes to see Jerusalem,” Ravinovich added.
Twenty-year-old Lt. Yael Yekutiel of Givatayim, the third female soldier killed in the attack, was also laid to rest Monday afternoon in Kiryat Shaul. Yekutiel’s father could barely get through the kaddish mourner’s prayer.
“We didn’t have enough time with you. You were so loved and you knew it. It was so fun to be with you. You were so sensitive, smart, caring,” he said amid tears.
Yekutiel’s two sisters then eulogized their sister.
“You loved everyone so much, you loved the world. You were so brave,” said Yekutiel’s older sister, Noga. “You were everything to me – everything. You were my best friend and I knew everything was ahead of us. If the world had only known you, you could have ruled it. You are so special. I love you so much and I will always be with you.”
On the diplomatic front, tensions have flared between the US and Israel in recent weeks after the Obama administration decided not to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel and its construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem.
President Obama, who leaves office in ten days, gave an interview on the Israeli television program Uvda Tuesday night in which he elaborated on his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the recent anti-Israel resolution which he allowed the UN Security Council to pass by refusing to veto it.
President Obama said that his relationship with the Prime Minister was not as bad as it was made out to be in the media. "I think he (Netanyahu) was very consistent in his views. The differences between our administrations were often presented as being personal disputes, but this was not the case. Every time we met we had a cordial and honest conversation, and there is a wide range of issues on which we agree."
"There are some notable issues on which we have profound disagreements." he admitted.
According to President Obama, allowing the passage of an anti-Israel resolution at the Security Council last month was "the best option to achieve peace."
He noted that the US continues to support Israel through financial aid. "Every day we spend $8.5 million dollars to ensure the security of Israel, and that does not include the billions that are for air defense."
"The question for me is what we can do to ensure a chance for peace in the long term." he said. "The political conditions on both sides did not allow significant progress and increasingly the issue of settlements has become a barrier to the possibility of a two-state solution."
"Netanyahu said he believes the two-state solution, but his actions have shown consistently that if pressed to approve more settlements - he will do so," Obama explained. "Since 2009 there has been an increase of 37% in the number of settlers. It is not derived from the constraints of Israel's security or its need for strategic depth. More and more we see that the facts on the ground almost completely prevent, or at least make it extremely difficult - if this trend continues, it will be impossible create a contiguous and functioning Palestinian State. What you are now encouraging is this vision of a Greater Israel, in which the occupation will continue for an indefinite period."
"We did not agree with every part of the UN resolution. Therefore, we abstained and did not vote for it." he added. "We insisted that we would impose a veto on anything that does not make a commitment to balancing the importance of the Palestinians to reduce the violence and stop the incitement. But I really believe it is important to send a message and to bring the facts about what is happening with settlements in the West Bank ".
By: Andrew Friedman
(TPS & INN)