In its original conception, the Jerusalem Light Rail, which ferries passengers through the troubled city's Jewish and Arab neighborhoods, was imagined as a symbol for coexistence. Or, as Jodi Rudoren (more quixotically) wrote:
A rare sliver where devout and hedonistic, new arrivals and ancestral natives, soldiers and tourists and, yes, Palestinians and Jews paid the same $2 fare and watched out the same windows as they passed the ancient stones of Jerusalem’s Old City and the modern marvel of Santiago Calatrava’s “Bridge of Strings.”
However, since this summer's war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, the tension in Jerusalem has turned the light rail into a ghost train. In July, several stations were destroyed in rioting that followed the murder of a 16-year-old Palestinian teenager⎯a crime that followed the murder of three Israeli teens in the West Bank. Since the war's end, Palestinians have stopped using the service and the cars of the trains themselves have become targets for vandalism and destruction.
On Wednesday, eight people were injured when a Palestinian man slammed a car into a light rail stop. "Footage of the incident showed the car veer to the right from the traffic lane and hurtle at speed into a light railway platform," Reuters noted, "hitting pedestrians before coming to a halt apparently after flattening a signpost."
Jerusalem authorities, who are calling the incident a terrorist attack, said the driver was shot and seriously wounded while trying to flee and that a three-month-old Israeli died from injuries sustained in the crash.
Haaretz reported that "the driver was identified as Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi, a Palestinian resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, who in the past served prison time for security offenses."
The Times of Israel added that, according to Palestinian sources, Israeli security forces were said to have "raided the family home of Abdel Tahman al-Shaludi" and that "Shaludi’s father was reportedly beaten by police officers." Shaludi is also said to be a nephew of a former top Hamas commander, who was killed in 1988.
Following the episode, riots broke out in a handful of Jerusalem neighborhoods including Silwan, from which Shaludi hails. In recent months, Silwan has become a place of contention as Jewish residents have moved into the majority Arab neighborhood despite international condemnation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the attack on Hamas as well as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, whom Netanyahu says recently incited Palestinians "to harm Jews in Jerusalem." According to Israeli radio, Hamas characterized the attack as a natural response to Israel's actions.