Jerusalem terrorist reportedly angered by plan to move US Embassy
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Jerusalem terrorist reportedly angered by plan to move US Embassy

Relatives say Fadi al-Qunbar expressed agitation after hearing sermon at local mosque criticizing president-elect's campaign promise, which the PA ordered imams to focus on

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

A relative shows a mobile phone photo of Fadi Qunbar, 28, outside his home in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. Qunbar was identified as the terrorist who drove a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four and wounding 16 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
A relative shows a mobile phone photo of Fadi Qunbar, 28, outside his home in Jerusalem, Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. Qunbar was identified as the terrorist who drove a truck into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four and wounding 16 (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The Palestinian truck driver who killed four IDF soldiers in a truck-ramming attack in Jerusalem on Sunday was reportedly motivated to act after hearing a sermon at his local mosque attacking US President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promise to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Relatives said Fadi al-Qunbar was driven to carry out the terror attack after hearing the sermon over the weekend at his local East Jerusalem mosque excoriating the embassy move.

“He was very angry, and said transferring the embassy would lead to war,” Qunbar’s cousin said, according to the Israel Hayom daily.

The deadliest single attack in more than a year of violence came at a time of heightened tensions in Jerusalem, where Palestinians have warned of dire consequences if incoming president Trump follows through on his promise to move the embassy to the Israeli capital.

On Friday, the Palestinian Authority’s supreme Sharia judge Mahmoud al-Habbash said moving the embassy was tantamount to “a declaration of war on all Muslims,” vowing the measure “would not pass in silence.”

“Occupied Jerusalem is our eternal capital, the capital of our existence and the capital of our state,” he said in a sermon attended by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. “In matters of religion, faith, values, ethics, and history, there can be no compromises. Therefore, it isn’t possible to compromise on or negotiate over Jerusalem.”

The scene of a truck-ramming attack in which a truck plowed into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four and injuring 16, in the Armon Hanatsiv neighborhood of Jerusalem. January 08, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
The scene of a truck-ramming attack in which a truck plowed into a group of Israeli soldiers, killing four and injuring 16, in the Armon Hanatsiv neighborhood of Jerusalem. January 08, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

“We will not agree to this under any circumstances. This will not pass in silence,” Habbash said.

Trump and his team have spoken repeatedly of his intention to relocate the embassy to Israel’s capital, leading to wall-to-wall condemnations from Palestinian leaders and the Jordanian government and even a warning from outgoing US Secretary of State John Kerry.

According to Israel Radio, the embassy relocation was the chief subject of religious sermons throughout the West Bank on Friday, with PA leadership instructing mosques it controls to focus on the matter.

It wasn’t clear which mosque Qunbar, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, attended on Friday.

Relatives and neighbors said the 28-year-old father of four espoused an ultra-conservative version of Islam, known as Salafism, but had no known ties to Palestinian terror organizations.

A composite photo of the four Israeli soldiers killed when a terrorist rammed his truck into a group of cadets on January 8, 2017 in Jerusalem. Clockwise from left, IDF Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, IDF Cadet Shir Hajaj, IDF Cadet Erez Orbach, IDF Cadet Shira Tzur. (Handout photos from IDF spokesperson)
A composite photo of the four Israeli soldiers killed when a terrorist rammed his truck into a group of cadets on January 8, 2017 in Jerusalem. Clockwise from left, IDF Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, IDF Cadet Shir Hajaj, IDF Cadet Erez Orbach, IDF Cadet Shira Tzur. (Handout photos from IDF spokesperson)

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday from the scene of the attack that “according to all the signs he is a supporter of the Islamic State” terror group, without elaborating further.

Reports in Hebrew-language media said Qunbar expressed support for the jihadist group in recent Facebook posts.

Sunday’s attack occurred when Qunbar rammed a large flatbed truck into a group of Israeli soldiers getting off a bus at the Haas Promenade in the Armon Hanatziv neighborhood, a popular tourist spot in southern Jerusalem.

Four soldiers — three women and one man — were killed and 16 were injured, two of them very seriously.

Qunbar accelerated as he struck the group, then, after hitting the group of soldiers with his truck, put the vehicle in reverse and ran over them a second time.

The terrorist was shot by soldiers and a civilian guide. He died of his wounds.

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