It was a sunny winter's day in Jerusalem, ideal for orientation tours in which young cadets in Israel's armed forces, the IDF, are provided an eyes-on look at their capital city's geography. Perhaps the most spectacular site is the Haas Promenade on the southeast side of Jerusalem. Atop the Hill of Evil Counsel, next door to a huge United Nations compound, the view of Jerusalem's Old City is a way to see the place as King David saw it almost three thousand years ago.
It happened without warning and it only took seconds. As cadets disembarked from their tour bus, they clustered on the grass just outside the narrow door. This provided an opportunity for their tour guide, Eitan Rond, to say a few words before proceeding to the Promenade's overlook platform. Standing there, 20-something cadets, Israeli millennials, young men and women, waited.
Suddenly, a truck swerved off the road. It accelerated across a parking lot toward a curb. Just over the curb, the cadets stood on a grassy patch next to their bus. The truck barreling toward them was a heavy flatbed lorry. The driver, Fadi Ahmad Al-Qunbar, punched it. Pushing the accelerator to the floor, he set a course directly for the soldiers.
Fadi, a 28 year old father of four, was from a nearby Arab village called Jabel Mukaber. Regarded as part of eastern Jerusalem, it belongs to a cluster of Islamic neighborhoods surrounding the UN's TSO compound on the Hill of Evil Counsel. From these neighborhoods, a number of terrorists have launched assaults against Israelis since an intifade of "lone wolf" attacks began in September of 2015. In these communities, It is as if an Ebola virus of anti-Israel hatred has found a hiding place to lurk and infect Islamic men and women. Most of them young, in their twenties, are idealistic Palestinian millennials. Enflamed with images that would make Hitler proud, their anti-semitism is further fueled by the promise that Allah himself shares the same vision, the same outrage, the same intent to slaughter the Jews of Israel.
It is virtually certain that as he accelerated toward young soldiers, Fadi was shouting, "Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar! Allahu Akbar!" In every recorded event of Islamic terrorism, in Israel and around the world, this is exultant cry of suicide terrorists.
It means, "Allah is greater."
In Europe and the US, it means Allah is greater than your culture, greater than your Christian God.
In Israel, and with even greater prejudice, it means Allah is greater than the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One who promised this land to the line of Israel, of Jacob, forever.
As he plows into the line of soldiers, Fadi crushes four girls and two young men. Others, glancing off the side of the truck are wounded, but not mortally. Stunned, those who can, hurry to the side of fallen friends.
As they do so, Fadi brakes his lorry, turns it around. Aiming for the bodies he has just mowed down, he stops. Apparently thrwarted by shots fired into the windshield, he turns the truck back around and puts it in reverse. Backing up to crush his victims a second time, he is finally stopped just as his wheels reach them. Stopped by the tour guide's gunfire, it took death to halt Fadi's "holy" fury.
It soon became that four were murdered: three cadets and one officer. They were ages 20, 20, 20, and 22.
...Cadet Shir Hajaj, 22, from Ma'ale Adumim
...Cadet Shira Tzur, 20, from Haifa;
...Cadet Erez Orbach, 20 from Alon Shvut; and
...2nd Lieutenant Yael Yekutiel, 20, from Givatayim.
A fifth seriously wounded victim, her name not released, is fighting for her life in Jerusalem's Shaare Zedek hospital. The sixth victim, an unnamed young man, was seriously wounded, but not mortally.
Today, one day later, Israel buries and mourns the deaths of its patriotic children. For their part, Fadi's family calls his death a "beautiful martryrdom" while fellow Islamists celebrate, handing out sweets, sharing victory memes on social media, claiming this is Fadi's second wedding day, this time to a bevy of virgins complements of Allah, a just reward for the martyr who carried out his will.
In such a time as this.