Agence France Presse (AFP)
September 22, 2008 - 8:00pm

Israeli media on Tuesday raised fears of a growing trend of attacks by Palestinians from east Jerusalem after a man rammed his car into a group of soldiers, injuring 13 people before being shot dead.

Monday's was the latest incident involving vehicle attacks in the Holy City by Palestinians, sparking calls for stepped-up security and harsher punitive measures.

The incident took place near Tzahal Square, just outside the 400-year-old walls of Jerusalem's Old City and a few hundred metres (yards) from Jaffa Gate, a major tourist thoroughfare.

"There aren't any intelligence warnings, there isn't any deterrence and, worst of all, the security establishment doesn't have any solutions," read an editorial in Israel's mass-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

"Demolishing murderers' homes and punishing their families is cruel and inhuman. But does anyone have a better solution for stopping this wave?"

Paraphrasing remarks by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after previous attacks, the Haaretz daily said: "Anyone who thinks Israel's occupation in east Jerusalem must continue will have to take into account more bulldozer attacks."

Police identified the driver of the car as Qasem Mughrabi, a 19-year-old from the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Jebel Mukaber, and said he carried out the attack after his cousin refused to marry him.

Security forces surrounded the man's family home to prevent any reprisal attacks and forbade the family from erecting a funeral tent.

Grieving family members said they were shocked by what they called "the accident," and said that Mughrabi, who had no known connection to any Palestinian political group, had stolen the car from his brother.

Police have meanwhile boosted security across the city ahead of the Jewish high holidays in October, when large numbers of people are expected to visit Jerusalem and its holy sites.

The incident late came just hours after President Shimon Peres asked Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni to form a new government following the resignation of Olmert, who has been dogged by corruption allegations.

Defence Minister Ehud Barak, the Labour party chief and a crucial coalition ally, said the attacker's home must be "destroyed as soon as possible" to dissuade others from launching similar acts.

Exactly two months ago, a Palestinian wounded 16 people when he turned an earth mover on passers-by and vehicles in Jerusalem.

That incident mimicked one 10 days earlier in which another Palestinian, also driving an earth mover, killed three Israelis and injured more than 45.

On March 6, a Palestinian shot dead eight Israeli students at a Jewish religious school in the worst attack the city had seen in years.

All three were shot dead in the immediate aftermath, and were all from east Jerusalem, prompting widespread calls for the revival of a policy of demolishing the family homes of those who launch deadly attacks.

The practice, used widely in the first years of the 2000 Palestinian uprising, stopped in 2005 after then military chief of staff Lieutenant General Moshe Yaalon said in a report it was ineffective as a deterrent.

More than 250,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem. They hold special ID cards that allow them to travel and work in Israel, but are not Israeli citizens.


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