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Israel: One killed in alleged Tel Aviv car-ramming

Police shoot driver dead after he crashed into a crowd of people, as family deny it was an attack
Israeli police and emergency service stand around a car involved in an attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 7 April 2023.
Israeli police and emergency services stand around a car involved in an attack in Tel Aviv, Israel, on 7 April 2023 (AP)

One person was killed and seven others were wounded in Tel Aviv on Friday after a car crashed into a crowd of people, according to Israeli police and medics.

Footage showed a car speeding towards pedestrians walking on Tel Aviv's beach promenade before it overturned. Police officers and civilian inspectors then shot and killed the driver inside. 

A police statement said they fired their weapons after the driver appeared to reach for a "rifle-like object".

Israeli police, which is often quick to photograph and publish weapons used in attacks, did not post any evidence of the item mentioned in the statement. 

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According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, a police source said they found a toy gun in the vehicle, not a gun.

The driver was identified as Yousef Abu Jaber, 45, a Palestinian citizen of Israel from Kafr Qasim city and a father of five daughters. 

His family told local media they doubt the incident was a premeditated attack. 

"We don't believe that Yousef would do such a thing, and we still rule out that this was a nationalistic-motivated attack," a family relative said.  

"Yousef has a family consisting of a wife and five daughters, whom they provide for. He's an exemplary and decent father, and many know him for his good manners."

Who are Palestinian citizens of Israel?

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In 1948, the state of Israel was declared. For Israelis, this came after what they regard as their war of independence - but for Palestinians it was the start of the Nakba, or "catastrophe".

More than 750,000 Palestinians were expelled or fled from their homes during the fighting. Zionist militias established control over historic Palestine following the withdrawal of the British Mandate and military forces.

By the end of the war, the State of Israel had been proclaimed. Jordan controlled the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Egypt controlled Gaza.

But many Palestinians remained in their homes and within the boundaries - known as the "48 borders" - of what is now called Israel. They were granted citizenship - but they did not live as equal citizens. 

They are now referred to as Palestinian citizens of Israel and make up about 20 percent of Israel's population. 

Between 1949 and 1966, Palestinian citizens of Israel were governed by military rule and subjected to travel permits, curfews and detention. They were also expelled from their homes and land, which were often given to Jewish settlers or state-backed bodies.

The man killed in the suspected car ramming was identified as Italian national Alessandro Parini, 30. The seven other people wounded were all either Italian or British citizens. Three are in moderate condition and four were lightly wounded.  

Israeli police initially labelled the incident as a "terror attack" involving a "shooting and a car-ramming". However, Haaretz reported that police and the internal security agency Shin Bet were looking into the possibility that it was not a terror attack. 

The incident came after two Israelis were killed in the morning in a shooting in the occupied West Bank's Jordan Valley.

Tensions have been running high in Israel and Palestinian following repeated Israeli attacks on Palestinian worshippers in Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

Rockets were fired from Gaza and Lebanon towards Israel on Thursday in an apparent response to the assaults on worshippers. Israel launched limited air strikes in return. 

Palestinian shootings at Israeli targets in the West Bank also spike in the wake of Al-Aqsa attacks. Two soldiers were wounded in separate shootings in Hebron and Jerusalem on Wednesday and Thursday. 

Protests also took place across several Palestinian towns and cities within Israel, including Umm Al-Fahm, Nazareth and Sakhnin.

Israeli police, fearing a repeat of the 2021 mass protests, violently cracked down on the protests and arrested at least 17 Palestinian citizens of Israel. 

The Israeli military chief said earlier that reservists would be called up amid the heightened tensions. 

Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai also called on licensed gun owners to start carrying their weapons.

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