Relatives of Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, the Silwan man who drove his car at high speed into a group of pedestrians in Jerusalem, killing two, believe that the incident was not a terror attack, but possibly just a road accident — an opinion supported by Palestinian media.
In an interview with Channel 2 on Monday, family member Fuad Shaludi said that it was still too early to know just what happened during the deadly incident last week, which took the lives of three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and Karen Yemima Muscara, 22, an Ecuadorian citizen who had come to Israel to convert to Judaism. Seven other people were injured in what the Israel Police said was a terror attack.
“Until the investigation is complete, you can’t know that it was a terror attack,” Shaludi said, and noted that the vehicle involved had been taken in for repairs a week before the incident.
Shaludi, whose exact family connection to Abdelrahman al-Shaludi was not clear, also said that the latter was not a member of any terror group and that, if he were, the security forces would not have released him from prison.
A security-camera video of the incident showed Shaludi, 21, swerving off the road and then accelerating into a crowd of people waiting at a light-rail stop in a northern neighborhood of Jerusalem. Shaludi traveled dozens of meters along the platform and through the waiting passengers before crashing into a post. He was shot by police as he tried to flee on foot and later died of his wounds in the hospital.
Last week Shaludi’s mother, Inas Sharif, also expressed her doubts as to whether or not her son had carried out a terror attack.
“I cannot say if it was on purpose, or just a simple car accident,” she told reporters at her home in Silwan, East Jerusalem, where she lives with her husband and remaining four children. “If it was really an attack, why didn’t he have explosives in his car — or even just Molotov cocktails?”
According to the Washington-based Middle East Media Research Institute, local Palestinian media also reported the incident as an accident rather than a deliberate attack.
The daily al-Ayyam wrote that “eyewitnesses said the driver lost control of the vehicle”; and al-Hayat al-Jadida, an official newspaper of the Palestinian Authority, reported that “the occupation forces are exploiting the traffic accident to exacerbate the oppression in Jerusalem and to incite against the Palestinian Authority.”
A Monday editorial from al-Hayat al-Jadida accused Israel of stirring violence to foment crises and that “it recently invented another excuse, as it does so well, when it presented a traffic accident caused by the martyr [‘Abd Al-Rahman] Al-Shaloudi as a terrorist attack (!!) in order [to justify] yet another escalation of the violence, in what looks like the beginning of another cruel war, this time against Jerusalem and its [Arab] residents.”
The Fatah movement published a poster the day after the attack celebrating Shaludi.
“The Silwan branch of Fatah honors the heroic martyr Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, who executed the Jerusalem operation that led to the running over of settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem,” read the notice, posted on Fatah’s official Facebook page.
Hamas issued a statement praising Shaludi and claiming he was a member of the organization, MEMRI reported.
Shaludi was already known to Israeli police. He had spent 14 months in prison for stone-throwing and was released in December 2013. He was arrested again in February and held for 20 days.
A nephew of slain Hamas explosives expert Mohiyedine Sharif, Shaludi was believed by Israeli officials to be a Hamas supporter — based on his Facebook posts. But a Fatah-published poster, which honored him upon his death and called him a “heroic martyr,” could indicate an affiliation with the rival Palestinian organization.
AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.