Israeli police arrested four residents of the Old City in Jerusalem overnight Monday for spray-painting graffiti praising the terrorist who carried out a truck-ramming attack in the capital on Sunday, killing four soldiers and wounding 16.
The graffiti, which was found sprayed across shopfronts in the Muslim Quarter the night after the attack, praises attacker Fadi al-Qunbar, a resident of East Jerusalem, while also declaring that the truck-ramming was “resistance, not terror.”
The graffiti also mentions the name Mesbah Abu Sabih, who killed two Israelis in a shooting attack in October at Jerusalem’s Ammunition Hill light rail stop, with “We will not despair until you give up” and “There is no place for you [Jews] in Jerusalem” written in Hebrew under his name.
Also found written in Hebrew was the statement, “Yesterday’s attack is the beginning of 2017.”
The suspects, whose ages range from 13 to 20 years old, were arrested after police uncovered cans of spray paint during a search of their homes, a police spokeswoman said.
The 13-year-old has since been released to house arrest, while the rest of the suspects will remain in police custody until the completion of the investigation, after which they will be brought before a court, the spokeswoman added.
On Sunday, the security cabinet ordered the security services to detain and investigate anyone found praising or celebrating the attack, which likely led to Monday evening’s arrests.
Police also detained three minors ages 12-14 Monday night after security forces were targeted with rocks, a Molotov cocktail and firecrackers in Jabel Mukaber, the East Jerusalem neighborhood whence Qunbar hailed.
Since Sunday’s attack, numerous suspects from the neighborhood have been arrested for suspected ties with Qunbar, including five members of his family, while police have also cordoned off the neighborhood using concrete blocks.
On Monday, a Jerusalem judge ordered Qunbar’s father and sister released, with the latter having praised her brother as a martyr immediately after the attack, citing a lack of evidence to justify their continued detention.
However, the court on Monday did extend the remand of five suspects — brothers Hamza, 31, and Muhammad, 28, cousin Muhammad, 30, and two other residents of Jabel Mukaber — for a further seven days on suspicion that they knew in advance about Qunbar’s plan to carry out the attack and did nothing to prevent it.
A previously unknown Palestinian group calling itself “the martyr of Baha Alyan collective” claimed responsibility on Monday for the truck-ramming, saying in a statement online that the attack was not the first carried out by a member — without providing details — and will be followed by “a torrent of unyielding quality attacks in defense of our Jerusalem and in revenge of our martyrs and prisoners.”
The group is named after Baha Alyan, who along with with Bilal Abu Ghanem killed three Israelis on a bus in Jerusalem in 2015. He was later killed by security forces.
Like Qunbar, both Alyan and Ghanem were also residents of Jabel Mukaber.