The mother of a Palestinian man behind Wednesday’s terror attack on a Jerusalem Light Rail station, that killed a three-month-old baby and wounded eight others, said Thursday night that she understood the suffering of the infant’s mother. Chaya Zissel Braun was killed in the attack; her parents were among those injured.
“I feel her pain, I am a mother after all,” Inas Sharif, 42, said. “I don’t wish for any mother in the world to lose her child.”
Sharif said she was struggling to come to terms with the events of the past 24 hours, in which her son Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, 21, drove his car at high speed into a group of pedestrians in what police described as a “hit-and-run terror attack.” After the car stopped, Shaludi tried to flee but was shot by police. He died later in hospital from his injuries.
In earlier reports, Sharif was quoted as saying the incident was a car accident, and that her son was “killed in cold blood,” an opinion backed by many other East Jerusalem residents. But on Thursday evening, she expressed uncertainty.
“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?” she said as she served coffee and dates to the women who came to pay their condolences as men gathered outside in a traditional mourning tent.
Outside, chunks of rock and the blackened remains of burnt tires littered the streets of Silwan, the remains of hours of rioting after the incident.
Only hours before the incident, she said, she had taken her son to the doctor, who had advised him to see a therapist after days of exhibiting signs of mental exhaustion.
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.
Shaludi, a nephew of slain Hamas explosives expert Mohiyedine Sharif, was believed by Israeli officials to be a Hamas supporter — based on his militant 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.
Since his arrest in February, Israeli investigators had not left him alone, his mother said.
“They kept on harassing him and summoning him for questioning over and over again and they tried to enlist him into working for them, but he repeatedly refused. They threatened him, saying he would never find work or be able to continue his education or have a normal life,” she said.
Israel has retained Shaludi’s body for a post-mortem, with the family expecting it will be handed over on Sunday for burial.
Elhanan Miller contributed to this report.