Hamas: Jerusalem car-ramming terrorist was a member
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Hamas: Jerusalem car-ramming terrorist was a member

Abed el-Muhsen Hassuna, who injured 14 in Monday attack, resided in Hebron but possessed an Israeli ID card; IDF makes West Bank arrests, finds weapons

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

The body of a Palestinian terrorist lies in the road after he was shot dead by Israeli security personnel during a terror attack at the entrance to Jerusalem on December 14, 2015, that injured 14 people, including a baby. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The body of a Palestinian terrorist lies in the road after he was shot dead by Israeli security personnel during a terror attack at the entrance to Jerusalem on December 14, 2015, that injured 14 people, including a baby. (Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The terrorist who carried out a car-ramming attack in Jerusalem on Monday was a member of Hamas, the Palestinian terror group announced a day later in a flier, as it emerged that Abed el-Muhsen Hassuna had been residing in Hebron.

Police said on Tuesday that Hassuna, 21, had in the past lived in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Beit Hanina but moved to the West Bank city two years ago with his family.

Hassuna, who held resident status in Israel and an Israeli identity card that granted him access to the entire country, drove from Hebron to the capital to carry out the attack. Fourteen people were injured in the attack, including 18-month-old Yotam Sitbon, who was seriously wounded.

Many East Jerusalem Arabs have resident rather than citizen status in Israel. They are permitted to travel freely between the West Bank and areas within the Green Line.

A Hamas flier released Tuesday, December 15, 2015, declares that terrorist Abed el-Muhsen Hassuna of Hebron was a member of the organization. (screenshot)
A Hamas flier released Tuesday, December 15, 2015, declares that terrorist Abed el-Muhsen Hassuna of Hebron was a member of the organization. (screenshot)

Hassuna drove his white Mazda sedan onto the sidewalk on Monday afternoon, smashing into pedestrians at a bus stop across the street from the Chords Bridge and near the capital’s central bus station. A member of the security forces, a security guard and an armed civilian who saw the attack taking place shot him before he was able to get out of his car and approach the civilians. An ax was later found in his car, which police say is an indication he intended to wield it as a weapon after getting out of the vehicle.

Jerusalem has been one of the two focal points of terror attacks since the latest wave of violence began in October, with Hebron being the other. More than 20 Israelis have been killed since the start of the violence, and hundreds more have been wounded.

Seven of the those injured in the attack Monday, including Sitbon and his mother, were being treated in Haddassah Hospital Ein Kerem. Sitbon was operated on twice on Monday as doctors fought to save his foot, which was badly crushed in the attack.

Five more of the injured were treated in Shaare Zedek Medical Center. One, whose condition was described as “moderate,” required surgery and was being kept on a respirator in the intensive care unit. Another victim of the attack was in a moderate condition in the orthopedic ward, and another was being treated in the ear, nose and throat department.

Meanwhile, IDF troops and Border Police officers arrested 15 wanted suspects during operations in the West Bank overnight Monday, the army said in a statement.

Eight were sought on suspicion of involvement in “popular terror activities” and violent disturbances against Israeli civilians and security forces, the army said. Many of those arrested were alleged Hamas activists.

In addition to the arrests, security forces, including army engineers, together with the IDF Civil Administration, conducted operations to survey the homes of terrorists in preparation for their demolition.

Engineering forces entered the village of Tsuref near Hebron and surveyed the home of 16-year-old Musab Muhammad Ghneimat, who stabbed and moderately injured an IDF soldier near the West Bank security fence on October 23. Ghneimat was shot in the leg and arrested at the scene.

In Hebron, forces assessed the home of 16-year-old Lama al-Bakhri, who attempted to stab an Israeli civilian near the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba on December 13.

Also in Hebron, soldiers found an improvised gun together with magazines and bullets in a mattress factory, the army said.

An improvised gun found by security forces in a Hebron mattress factory, December 15, 2015. (IDF spokesperson)
An improvised gun found by security forces in a Hebron mattress factory, December 15, 2015. (IDF spokesperson)

The practice of demolishing the family homes of terrorists has been criticized by nongovernmental groups, but government officials have defended its use as a deterrent against future attacks.

Critics claim that in addition to being a form of collective punishment, house demolitions could motivate family members of terrorists to launch attacks themselves.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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