By Qais Abu Samra
A Palestinian driver who ran over and killed an Israeli baby and injured eight other people in Jerusalem on Wednesday was a member of Palestinian resistance faction Hamas, the group said Thursday.
The group did not, however, claim responsibility for the attack, which had prompted Israeli police to declare a state of high alert in most of the Old City on Wednesday.
The Gaza-based resistance movement's branch in the occupied West Bank said in a statement that Palestinian driver Abdel-Rahman al-Sheloudi – who died at a Jerusalem hospital late Wednesday after being shot by Israeli police in the wake of the incident – was one of its members.
"The daring Jerusalem operation was a normal and expected reaction to growing Zionist aggression against citizens and holy sites in all Palestinian cities," Hamas said in the statement.
The faction went on to laud Palestinian efforts to prevent Israeli settlers from entering East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, calling on the Palestinian people to defend the iconic mosque and confront the "Zionist siege" imposed on it.
Al-Sheloudi, 23, died late Wednesday at the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem of wounds he sustained when an Israeli policeman shot him in the immediate wake of the incident, according to Israeli medical sources.
Earlier Wednesday, Israeli medical sources said a baby had died and eight others were injured when al-Sheloudi ran over pedestrians as they disembarked from a light rail train in Jerusalem.
Some Hebrew-language media reported that al-Sheloudi was a Hamas activist in Jerusalem and that he had served for some time in Israeli jails for committing acts "hostile" to Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Hamas for the incident, according to Israel Radio.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Jewish state – a move never recognized by the international community.
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