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Truck driven by IS supporter kills four Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem

By Josef Federman

A Palestinian has rammed his truck into a group of Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, killing four and wounding 15 others.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the driver was a supporter of the Islamic State group, and suggested the attack was inspired by similar assaults in Europe.

"We know the identity of the attacker. According to all the signs, he was a supporter of the Islamic State," he said at the attack site.

"We know that there is a sequence of terror attacks. There definitely could be a connection between them, from France to Berlin and now Jerusalem."

Security camera footage shown on Israeli Channel 2 TV showed the lorry driving at high speed off the road and into the crowd of people in the Armon Hanatziv neighbourhood.

The truck is seen reversing quickly, apparently trying to crush more people, before the driver was shot dead.

"There was no sense in that reverse," Leah Schreiber, a witness, told reporters. "He drove backward to crush more people. That was really clear."

While Israel has arrested several Palestinians accused of travelling to Syria to fight with the group, IS is not known to have a presence in Israel or the Palestinian areas. Israel has said two gunmen who carried out a deadly shooting in Tel Aviv last June were inspired by IS, but were not members.

Mr Netanyahu said Israel had blockaded Jabel Mukaber, the nearby Palestinian neighbourhood in east Jerusalem, where the attacker lived. He said Israel was planning other steps but did not elaborate on what they were.

He said the dead were all soldiers - three women and a man. Israel's national rescue service said one of the 15 wounded was in a serious condition.

The attack matched the deadliest in a more than year-long wave of Palestinian shooting, stabbing and vehicle attacks against Israelis. The two gunmen in last June's attack in Tel Aviv also killed four people, who were eating dinner at a popular tourist spot.

Since September 2015, Palestinian attackers have killed 40 Israelis and two Americans. During that time, 230 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

The atmosphere in Israel has been charged following the manslaughter conviction last week of an Israeli soldier who shot dead a wounded Palestinian attacker who was lying on the ground.

Eytan Rund, a tour guide who said he shot the attacker on yesterday, said the many soldiers in the area were slow to respond. He believed the "hesitation" was connected to last week's verdict.

Hamas spokesman Abdul-Latif Qanou said the attack proves the wave of Palestinian violence has not ended, despite a recent lull.

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