By Jeffrey Heller
JERUSALEM, Aug 4 (Reuters) - A Palestinian killed an Israeli and overturned a bus with a construction vehicle on Monday and a gunman wounded a soldier in attacks in Jerusalem that appeared to be a backlash against Israel's Gaza war.
There were no passengers on the bus, in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of the city. Surveillance video broadcast on Israeli television showed the yellow excavator's mechanical arm tearing into the side of the bus as it lay on the sidewalk.
Police identified the driver of the digger as a Palestinian from East Jerusalem and described the incident as a terrorist attack. Police officers shot him dead, and TV footage showed the man's body hanging out of the excavator's cabin.
Several hours later, a gunmen fired at a soldier, wounding him in the stomach, near Jerusalem's Hebrew University. Police said the assailant then jumped on a waiting motorcycle and sped away.
"We very much suspect that this was a terrorist attack," said Yossi Parienti, Jerusalem district police chief, told Channel Two television.
Tensions have been high in Jerusalem for the past month over the Gaza war and the killing of a Palestinian teen in the city by alleged Israeli assailants out to avenge the deaths of three abducted Israeli youngsters in the occupied West Bank.
There were no immediate claims of responsibility for Monday's attacks in the city.
But a spokesman for Hamas, the dominant group in the Gaza Strip, said: "We praise the heroic and brave operations in Jerusalem, which come as a natural reaction to the crimes and massacres by the Occupation against our people in Gaza."
Describing the excavator incident, Parienti said the vehicle "hit a Jewish citizen at a construction site and then drove about 50 meters (yards) down the road, where it overturned the bus with its arm, slightly injuring three people".
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said the nearly four-week-old Gaza war had raised fears of attacks in Israeli cities.
"From the moment fighting started in the south, we realized such an incident of a lone attacker can happen and such tractor attacks are familiar in Jerusalem," Aharonovitch said on Channel 2 television.
"(The driver's) whole family is being interrogated. We want to know who sent him, if he was acting alone, whether he belonged to a network - all those things are being checked," he said.
In two incidents in July 2008, construction vehicles driven by Palestinians hit Israeli buses and pedestrians, killing a total of three people. In both incidents, the attackers were shot dead.
Three years later, an Arab truck driver drove into cars and pedestrians in Tel Aviv, killing one person, in what police said was a deliberate attack. The driver was apprehended and sentenced to life imprisonment.
(Additional reporting by Maayan Lubell and Ori Lewis in Jerusalem and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza; Editing by Giles Elgood)
Israel's Channel 10 TV showed cellphone video of what it said was the attack. The video showed the yellow construction vehicle slamming the large shovel on its front end into the bus. Israeli media said there were several injuries, including passengers and pedestrians.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said a police officer in the area opened fire and killed the attacker.
Mayor Nir Barkat said the police's quick action prevented far more casualties and appealed for calm.
Tensions have been high between Arabs and Jews in the region amid a monthlong war between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip that officials say has killed more than 1,800 Palestinians and more than 60 Israelis
In the past, Palestinian attackers have gone on deadly rampages with bulldozers in Jerusalem traffic.
BEFORE YOU GO
08/08/2014 2:47 PM EDT
White House Concerned By Renewed Fighting
The White House on Friday urged Israel and the Palestinians to resume talks and do what they can to protect civilians after Egyptian-mediated negotiations failed to extend a ceasefire and rocket fire resumed.
"The United States is very concerned about today's developments in Gaza," White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters.
"We condemn the renewed rocket fire and we are concerned about the safety and security of civilians on both sides of that conflict," he said.
08/08/2014 1:42 PM EDT
Official: 5 Palestinians Killed In Gaza
Five Palestinians, including a 10-year-old boy, have been killed in Israeli airstrikes on Gaza since a ceasefire fell apart on Friday, a Palestinian medical official reported to Agence France Presse.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army said Palestinian militants fired 35 rockets into Israel on Friday, injuring a soldier and a civilian.
The father of a ten-year old Palestinian boy, who was killed in an Israeli air strike on the Sheikh Radwan neighbourhood in northern Gaza City, mourns at the city's Al-Shifa hospital, on August 8, 2014. (MOHAMMED ABED/AFP/Getty Images)
08/08/2014 9:23 AM EDT
Palestinian Delegation Says Gaza Talks Will Continue
Palestinian factions will remain in Cairo and press on with Egyptian-mediated talks despite the end of the ceasefire in Gaza, the head of the delegation, Fatah official Azzam Ahmed, said on Friday.
"We are not for escalation. We are ready to continue through our Egyptian brothers in negotiating to reach a final agreement that would return the rights to their owners," Ahmed said. "I mean here lifting the blockade of Gaza."
Ahmed said Palestinian negotiators were due to meet Egyptian intelligence officials, who have been mediating the talks, later in the day. He said Palestinian factions were united in their decision not to extend the 72-hour truce that ended at 0500 GMT and had been clear about their basic demands to end the conflict.
08/08/2014 9:13 AM EDT
Egypt: Agreement Close In Gaza Talks
Egypt called on Friday for an immediate resumption of the ceasefire in Gaza and a return to the negotiating table, saying that only a few outstanding issues remained in negotiations it was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.
"The foreign ministry calls on all sides to rise to their responsibilities ... and to return immediately to the ceasefire commitment and exploit the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible time," the foreign ministry said in a statement.
08/08/2014 3:58 AM EDT
Israeli Airstrikes On Gaza Resume
BREAKING: Israel says it's resumed strikes on Gaza in response to rocket fire, after end of 3-day truce.— The Associated Press (@AP) August 8, 2014
08/08/2014 3:02 AM EDT
Cease-Fire Ends With New Rocket Attacks
A 72-hour cease-fire expired at 8 a.m. today, and not long after, Gaza militants began firing rockets at Israel, The Associated Press reported.
The Israeli military said at least 10 rockets had been fired at Israel since the truce ended. Prior to the attacks, a senior official for Hamas said the militant groups would not extend the cease-fire.
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08/06/2014 2:46 PM EDT
Official: Israel Agrees To Extend Ceasefire
Israel has conditionally agreed to extend a ceasefire that ended a month of fighting in Gaza beyond a Friday deadline, an Israeli official said on Wednesday, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The official did not say for how much longer Israel had agreed to extend the truce, only that: "Israel has expressed its readiness to extend the truce under its current terms," referring to the deal brokered by Egypt that took effect on Tuesday.
Hamas had no immediate comment.
08/06/2014 2:12 PM EDT
IDF: Rocket Sirens Were False Alarm
IDF confirms rocket sirens in southern Israel were false alarm http://t.co/QN677jtlXE— Haaretz.com (@haaretzcom) August 6, 2014
08/06/2014 1:18 PM EDT
Report: Rocket Sirens Sound At Gaza Border
ABC Foreign Editor Jon Williams reports that the IDF have confirmed the rocket sirens are sounding, but are checking to see if it is a false alarm.
08/05/2014 4:20 PM EDT
Israel Arrests Kidnapping Suspect
Reuters reports that Israel has arrested one of the suspects in the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank in June.
Hussam Kawasme, a 40-year-old resident of the West Bank city of Hebron, was arrested on July 11 in connection with the killing of Israelis Gil-Ad Shaer, Naftali Fraenkel and Eyal Yifrah, who went missing on June 12 and were discovered dead a couple of weeks later.
Their kidnapping sparked a cycle of violence that led to the month-long conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
Kawasme's arrest was made public for the first time on Tuesday in a document from an Israeli court case over whether houses belonging to him and two other suspects - who remain at large - should be destroyed as a punitive measure.
The lawyers listed as representing Kawasme were not reachable for comment.
The court document said Kawasme had admitted to helping to organize the kidnapping - securing funding from the Hamas Islamist group in Gaza and purchasing weapons which he passed on to the two other suspects who carried out the attack.
Kawasme also helped to bury the bodies of the teenagers in a plot of land he had bought a few months earlier, it said.
Israel has named the other two suspects in the case as Marwan Kawasme and Amar Abu Aysha.