A three-month-old girl was killed Wednesday afternoon and eight others were injured when a car crashed into a crowd at a light rail station in Jerusalem in what officials said was a terrorist attack.
The suspect, identified by an Israeli official as a member of terror group Hamas, attempted to flee the scene on foot and was shot and badly hurt by police, a police spokesperson said.
“A private car which arrived from the direction of the French Hill junction hit a number of pedestrians who were on the pavement and injured nine of them,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.
“Initial indications suggest this is a hit-and-run terror attack,” Samri said.
The baby, Chaya Zissel Braun, died at the nearby Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus a few hours after the incident. A spokesperson for Israeli rescue service Magen David Adom said a 60-year-old woman and seven other people, including the baby’s parents, were also lightly and moderately wounded in the attack.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said that both Chaya Zissel Braun and her parents were American citizens. US State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf couldn’t immediately confirm whether the family was American, but condemned the attack.
“The Israelis are currently looking into the incident. We are in touch with them and we’ll see what more information we can get, also urge all sides to exercise restraint and maintain calm,” Harf said.
Prime Minister’s Office spokesperson Ofir Gendelman wrote on his official Twitter feed that the suspect was a Hamas member.
The Palestinian terrorist who ran over 8 people in Jerusalem this evening, injuring them and killing a baby, was a member of Hamas.
— Ofir Gendelman (@ofirgendelman) October 22, 2014
The alleged attacker is Abdelrahman al-Shaludi, a former Palestinian prisoner from the flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan.
Police confirmed that the suspect was from Silwan and had previously served in Israeli prison.
Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said on Twitter that all of those injured in the incident were evacuated to local hospitals and that an investigation was ongoing.
Suspect vehicle at scene in Jerusalem. Strong possibility of terror attack. Police units at scene pic.twitter.com/0bw3dG135Y
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) October 22, 2014
The incident took place at the Ammunition Hill station, near police headquarters. The light rail runs along the seam line between East and West Jerusalem.
A video posted on social media, which appeared to be a recording of security camera footage, showed the car drive onto the northbound platform of the light rail station.
At the scene, a silver car with the front badly dented stood in the road along with two stationary trains at the nearby tram station.
Dozens of onlookers watched as police sealed off access to the road, a major traffic artery called Route 1, causing major traffic jams throughout the rest of the city.
After the incident, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino and Shin Bet chief Yoram Cohen to receive a briefing about what happened. Netanyahu ordered increased security in the capital.
“This is how [PA President Abbas’s] partners in government act, the same Abbas who just a few days ago incited attacks on Jews in Jerusalem,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
A few hours after the suspected attack, dozens of masked Palestinian youths blocked roads in Silwan, set tires alight and fired off firecrackers. Clashes were reported with police forces in Silwan and Issawiya. One police officer was reported injured by a firebomb in Silwan.
A Hamas spokesperson said in response to the reports that if indeed it was a terrorist attack, then it was a natural response to Israel’s actions in Jerusalem, particularly Jewish incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque, Israel Radio reported.
The light rail has in recent months been repeatedly attacked by stone-throwing Palestinians in the neighborhood of Shuafat, located just north of where Wednesday’s incident took place.
AFP contributed to this report.