Nimer Mahmoud Ahmad Jamal, the 37-year-old Palestinian who shot to death three Israelis and injured another at the entrance to the settlement of Har Adar outside Jerusalem Tuesday, was recently left by his wife, likely due to domestic violence, and left her a final message before carrying out the attack.
Jamal, who was from the neighboring village of Bayt Surik, was a father of four young children and held a license to work in Israeli settlements. That set him apart from the typical profile of Palestinian attackers, who are generally young, unmarried men.
In his final message to his wife, which was released after the attack by the Israeli army, Jamal, who had worked for years as a house cleaner in Har Adar, mourned her departure and said he had been a terrible husband to her.
“When you wake up in the morning, share this message on my page. Let your conscience rest. You were a good wife, Umm Baha [mother of Baha], and a compassionate mother and I was the one who behaved badly,” he wrote.
He added: “I say this in full awareness: my wife had nothing to do with what will happen tomorrow.”
He finished his message by asking for her forgiveness and for her to raise the children.
Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency said Jamal’s wife fled to Jordan several weeks ago.
“The preliminary investigation indicates that he had significant personal and family problems, including those regarding family violence. His wife fled to Jordan several weeks ago and left him with their children,” the statement said.
A few hours before the attack, Jamal published a Facebook post, writing only, “Oh God.” His last post was simply the letter “z” in Arabic.
The night before his attack, he published a picture of himself flexing at the gym and wrote: “I fear nothing, Oh God. I testify there is no God but God.” It was a reference to a foundational Islamic phrase often repeated in prayer.
Police said Jamal had a legal work permit, making him one of only a few Palestinians with such a document to commit a terror attack in recent years. His permit was only applicable for work inside Israeli settlements, like Har Adar, which lie along the “seam line” between the West Bank and Israel, according to the Shin Bet security service.
Michal Avidor, a resident of Har Adar, said Jamal had cleaned her house for the past two and a half years, and described him as “completely normal” and “good-natured” man.
She told Israel Radio that she was “on my way to the school to tell my children that the man who’s been cleaning our house for the past two and a half years was the terrorist.”
At the scene, responding to questions about the rarity of attacks by Palestinians with work permits, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich said, “To my regret there is no [usual] profile for a terrorist.”
“It could just be someone who is fed up with everything and decides to take out his rage in an attack,” he said, adding, “The incitement [against Israel] is constant.”
Hamas plays up attack as part of ‘Jerusalem Intifada’
While the attacker did not make his motives for the shooting clear, the Hamas terror group, which controls the Gaza strip, welcomed the attack, linking it to the struggle over control of nearby Jerusalem.
Hamas spokesperson Hazem Qassem said in a statement, “Once again Jerusalem proves that it is at the heart of the conflict with the occupation, and that there is no way to get it out of the equation of the conflict.”
“This morning’s operation north of Jerusalem is a new chapter in the Jerusalem Intifada, and is a confirmation from the uprising youth that the fighting will continue until the complete freedom of the people and the land,” he added.
The Hamas spokesperson also used the opportunity to attack the Palestinian Authority’s strategy of seeking statehood through membership in international bodies.
“Today’s operation means that our people reject the logic of begging for rights through international institutions and that this nation will protect its rights and holy places with its blood and spirit,” he said.
The PA and its main party, Fatah, have yet to officially comment on the attack.
However, Munir al-Jaghoub, who heads Fatah’s Information Department in the Office of Mobilization and Organization, published a statement on Fatah’s official Facebook account, saying Israeli policies against Palestinians were to blame for the attack at Har Adar.
“The daily practices of Israel and the violations of its occupation against our people everywhere are the cause of all violence,” he wrote.
Since September 2015, some 51 Israelis, two visiting Americans, an Eritrean national, a Palestinian man and a British student have been killed in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks by Palestinian assailants. In that time, nearly 300 Palestinians and a Sudanese national were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.
The Israeli government blames the terrorism and violence in part on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders, compounded on social media sites that glorify violence and encourage attacks.
Judah Ari Gross and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.