Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said there had been no specific warning ahead of the Jerusalem terror attack Sunday morning, but noted a recent uptick in incitement to violence among Palestinians.
At the scene of the attack, in which a female bystander and a police officer were killed and five people were injured, Erdan also said the terrorist in the Jerusalem drive-by shooting attack held Israeli citizenship.
“In our assessments there were no warnings of a specific attack, but we assessed that because of the uptick in incitement levels, there will be incidents of lone terrorists,” said Erdan at Ammunition Hill.
Palestinian media identified the assailant as a 39-year-old man from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.
According to the Bethlehem-based Maan News Agency, he had previously been incarcerated in an Israeli jail for promoting “incitement” regarding the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
Erdan and other Israeli politicians have been at the forefront of a campaign to crack down on social media postings they say encourage violence, including jailing Palestinians for “inciting” posts.
Israel’s Channel 10 said that the killer, who the Hamas terror group claimed as a member, was recently indicted on 15 counts of incitement to violence, and 7 counts of supporting a terror organization for posts on Facebook.
Erdan, at the scene of the shooting, said it was “scandalous” that Facebook in the past week had allowed pro-Hamas pages that incited against Israel, and that had previously been blocked, to resume activities.
According to Channel 10, the terrorist was supposed to turn himself in to the authorities to begin his second prison sentence on Sunday.
The attack was an unusual one in the yearlong spate of Palestinian assaults since most have been stabbings rather than shootings. Sunday’s was the deadliest attack on Israelis since June 8, when a pair of Palestinians opened fire and killed four people at a popular Tel Aviv food market.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the attacker sped toward a busy stop of the city’s light rail and opened fire, seriously wounding a 60-year-old woman waiting there, who later died. She was later named as Jerusalem resident Levana Malihi.
He then continued driving and shot another woman who was seated in her car before speeding off toward an Arab neighborhood in East Jerusalem.
Samri said police officers on motorcycles chased the assailant, who eventually stepped out of his vehicle and opened fire at them. A 30-year-old police officer was killed in the shootout.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, speaking at the start of a cabinet meeting on Sunday, saluted the police, saying they had “acted rapidly and very firmly against the terrorist, who was eliminated.”
Meanwhile, opposition leader Isaac Herzog sent condolences to the families of the victims and well-wishes to the injured.
“The despicable terrorists will never prevail,” he said in a statement.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat condemned the “cruel and merciless terrorism that hurts innocent civilians and attempts to disrupt our way of life and harm us.”
“I ask the public to display unity, strength and determination in the war against lone-wolf terror and continue their routine during the holidays with maximum vigilance and responsibility,” the mayor said.
Zionist Union MK Nachman Shai tweeted: “Jerusalem 2016, there is no peace and there is no security.”
Agencies contributed to this report.