‘Traffic jams at checkpoints have turned into death traps’

Yesha Council head Shlomo Ne’eman’s warning was echoed by other Israeli officials after the Thursday terror attack by two brothers and a third accomplice from the Bethlehem area.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Senior Israeli officials are warning that terror attacks such as the one at the Ma’ale Adumim security checkpoint near Jerusalem Thursday morning can easily happen again.

“The traffic jams at the checkpoints have turned into death traps,” said Gush Etzion Regional Council head and Yesha Council Chairman Shlomo Ne’eman.

Mentioning two other such barriers, he added, “The traffic on the tunnel road [to Jerusalem] and at the Mizmoria crossing in Gush Etzion creates a real threat. For years I’ve been demanding a comprehensive solution to the problem at the crossings, and the prioritization of the development of roads and transportation in Judea and Samaria. It’s not only an issue of quality of life, but life itself!”

Sports and Culture Minister Miki Zohar told Ynet that “In the run-up to Ramadan, there is a real fear that such attacks will occur. You have to maintain maximum vigilance.”

The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins March 10 this year. It has become a period of extra violence against Jews, especially in Jerusalem, with riots also regularly occurring on the Temple Mount during Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

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The one person dead so far from the attack is a man in his twenties, said Hebrew press reports. One of the two seriously wounded is a pregnant 23-year-old, whose fetus was not injured.

Four people between the ages of 23 and 52 were moderately injured and were taken to three Jerusalem hospitals, Shaare Zedek and the Hadassah medical centers in Ein Karem and Mount Scopus.

Three others who were lightly hurt, including those suffering from anxiety, were evacuated to the hospital as well.

Two of the three assailants are brothers who live in the neighboring town of Bethlehem, Muhammed (26) and Khadem (31) Zuahara. Khadem was known to the authorities, having previously spent some time in prison for staying illegally in Israel.

The third terrorist was named as Ahmed Alouhash, 31, from the nearby village of Za’atara.

According to the initial investigation, the three arrived at the Ma’ale Adumim checkpoint at 7:30 AM in two cars, armed with M-16 and Carlo rifles and began spraying gunfire at some of the hundreds of cars waiting in line.

One of them was shot and killed by Hananya Ben Shimon (23), a reservist who had been fighting for months in a tank unit in Gaza until being released from duty some ten days ago. The Ma’ale Adumim resident had been on his way with his mother to Jerusalem when he saw what was happening.

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His father told Ynet, “When the terrorist stopped his car and began shooting, Hananya shot him once through [his own] window and then got out, strove for contact, hit him, and got injured himself as well.”

Ben Shimon was actually hit by several bullets and was seriously injured in the incident.

A friend of his told Walla that he wasn’t surprised at all by Ben Shimon’s heroic actions.

“He was always the first to strive for contact and be first and endanger himself for those around him and for the country,” he said. “He just now returned from several months’ fighting in Khan Younis and started working as a security guard on trips. I’m sure that he’ll get over this injury quickly and return to saving lives as he knows how to do.”

The second terrorist was neutralized by security forces at the scene, while the third was stopped by police as he was attempting to flee. One of them was brought to Hadassah Hospital on Mount Scopus where at the time of this report he was being treated for life-threatening injuries caused during his capture, according to Channel 14.

He is in a separate room from those of his victims, said the report, with security forces guarding him with an eye to interrogating him as soon as possible.

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The investigation into the attack is still ongoing.