Officer at Ramming Scene Answers Critics Saying Soldiers Ran

Newly erected concrete barriers at the entrance to Jabel Mukaber, in eastern Yerushalayim, where the driver in Sunday’s truck ramming resided. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

An IDF officer who herself helped shoot down the truck driver in Sunday’s attack spoke out in defense of her comrades, saying that she was not the only one to take action.

“We were ready [to shoot], but we weren’t sure this was really a ramming attack,” Lt. Maya Peled told reporters on Monday. “Just as I got my magazine in my gun, he went in reverse and we understood this was really a terror attack. I heard one shot that stopped the truck and I shot at the terrorist, right by his side. Also to my side there were other cadets who came and covered and also took part in the shooting. I was not alone.”

She added that they could not all begin shooting at once, lest they hit other soldiers in the line of fire.

Her comment was made in response to those who charged that large numbers of soldiers and cadets, despite carrying weapons, fled from the site rather than acting to stop the terrorist. Peled did not, however, address the images of soldiers running away that were circulated in the media.

She was backed up by Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, who told a Yisrael Beytenu party meeting on Monday that “We haven’t finished with the investigation yet. But it’s clear that our soldiers immediately realized [what was happening] and mobilized and shot the terrorist, so it wasn’t as some have claimed.”

Liberman added that “any attempt to tie this event to the Elor Azaria verdict is simply untrue. For anyone who does not know the facts: Since the Azaria case we have taken out 39 terrorists and wounded 15.” He characterized Sunday’s response by the soldiers “a determined action of the IDF.”

Meanwhile, investigation into the attack continued on Monday, as a Yerushalayim court extended by seven days the remand of four brothers and a cousin of the perpetrator of the attack, Fadi al-Qanbar. They are suspected of having had prior knowledge of his murderous plan.

Qanbar’s sister praised him for what he did in a statement to reporters.

Authorities also sealed off the east Yerushalayim neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, where Qanbar lived.