Israeli rescue personnel prepare to remove the body
of a driver from inside a bulldozer after an attack in
Jerusalem July 22, 2008.
REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Jerusalem bulldozer drivers live in fear after attacks
By Mohammed Assadi

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian and Jewish bulldozer drivers alike say they live in fear of being mistaken for attackers.

In less than a month, two Palestinian bulldozer drivers killed three Israelis and injured dozens after rampaging through Jerusalem’s busy streets. Both drivers were shot dead.

“People have developed bulldozer-phobia,” said Anas, a 23-year-old Palestinian driver who asked to be identified by his first name. “It is better to start looking for a new career.”

Bulldozers are common sight across Jerusalem, where a light-rail system and other projects are being built.

Many of the drivers are Palestinians from Arab East Jerusalem, whose Israeli identification cards allow them to travel across the city and Israel, unlike Palestinians who live in the occupied West Bank.

For many Palestinians, bulldozers can be a symbol of Israeli occupation. The army uses them in the Gaza Strip and occupied West Bank. In Jerusalem, the municipality uses them to demolish homes constructed without hard-to-obtain building permits.

“Now the Palestinians are trying to fight the occupation by using its very tools,” Palestinian analyst Hani al-Masri said.

Israel says only illegally built houses are demolished and maintains that difficulties getting building permits were no excuse for breaching the law.

The two strikingly similar bulldozer attacks in Jewish west Jerusalem have stirred Israeli fears that Palestinians in the city could easily strike again.

Israeli police have tightened security at road construction and building sites, checking the identification papers of bulldozer driver and other records.

“We have more patrols and have … stepped up security since the last attack took place in Jerusalem in order to prevent this type of pattern,” said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s spokesman, Mark Regev, said recent bulldozer and shooting attacks by Palestinians from Jerusalem appeared to be part of a “new phenomenon”.

“We are looking at ways to better protect the Israeli civilian population of Jerusalem,” he said.

Masri said Israel’s barrier in and around the occupied West Bank may help explain why Palestinians from Jerusalem were involved in the attacks since it is harder for militants in the West Bank to reach their targets in the city.

Israel has deemed the two incidents “terrorist” attacks but have not established any links between the drivers and militant groups. Police say both drivers had criminal records.

An estimated 250,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war and annexed in a move not recognized internationally.

Although they pay Israeli taxes, Palestinians in the city complain of poor municipal and governmental services, harassment by police and a lack of employment opportunities.

But they do receive social benefits like all Israelis, including health insurance and unemployment coverage.

Both Palestinian bulldozer drivers lived in homes built without permits, and they and their families have been paying fines to the Jerusalem municipality, relatives said.

Palestinian analyst Zakaria al-Qaq said Palestinian frustrations in Jerusalem have risen to “unbearable levels”. Ziad Hammoury, of the Jerusalem Centre for Social and Economic Rights, said this may be “fuelling such attacks”.

Many bulldozer drivers say they are afraid to drive to work sites, fearing they will be shot if they get into an accident. “They will think that I am a terrorist and kill me,” said Yoram Baliti, a Jewish tractor driver in Jerusalem.

Palestinian bulldozer driver Mahmoud Abu Anas said: “I feel like people are looking at me when I drive. I’m afraid. What if I have an accident. Now I drive much slower.”

(Additional reporting by Adam Entous; Editing by Samia Nakhoul)



  1. biscuits007 said,

    July 26, 2008 at 13:11

    Okay so maybe this is nit-picking just a mite but… that’s NOT a bulldozer! The picture under the banner ‘Jerusalem Bulldozer Phobia’, what is pictured there is a front end loader. One shouldn’t confuse the two. It is a given that both are colossal pieces of very heavy earth shaking/moving equipment. T’was a bulldozer that killed Rachel Corrie. T’was a bulldozer that went rampant in the “first” Jerusalem episode. This particular episode, it’s a front end loader. The difference is minimal and okay, nit-picky. So, why was the Palestinian man that the Israeli Gestapo pumped about eighteen bullets into for his front end loader mistake, naked? That’s what the photags showed after the tragedy. Palestinian dude being naked and dead. Was dude driving the “front end loader” naked? Did the Israeli Gestapo “strip” the man? Seems that the world’s myopic media misses the entire point of Palestinian frustration. After about 60 years of apartheid and ethnic horror of just about all color, Palestinian dude gets naked, gets in a front end loader, and drives down Rodeo-Jerusalem Dr. and vents his frustration/rage. Or something. Seems the world’s myopic media NEVER does reporting on those huge and colossally fortified BULLDOZERS that Israel receives compliments of Caterpillar Corp.. Now that’s a piece of heavy equipment that can squish the likes of a Rachel Corrie without so much as a blink! That BULLDOZER can make splintered-short work of an olive grove, the family farm, an entire village and does so most un-diplomatically and on schedule. (that’s pronounced ssshhheeeddd-yule!) Sorry, I digress. That IS NOT a bulldozer being pictured. It’s a front end loader.

  2. July 26, 2008 at 20:31

    […] JERUSALEM BULLDOZER PHOBIA July 26, 2008 Posted by verteta in Israel. trackback Full Link : HERE […]

  3. zkashan said,

    July 26, 2008 at 22:14

    I hope that the delicate peace acheived between Israel/Gaza remains, and that Gaza does not turn into Beirut 1980s. Hopefully Olmert will tackle West Bank and and Jerusalem before violence erupts, and everything is chaos again. I

  4. July 27, 2008 at 00:57

    This is laughable. The IDf should just get one of their Kidon/MOSSAD/Shin Beit creeps to mark a little X in indelible/IR ink on all heavy equipment and start blasting away from the comfort of their Apache’s. I look at your site and analyze the situation there frequently. This is not newsworthy, it is laughable. The poor Israelis. Good god. Here in Canada, we are just about to be subjected to a week of the Evil Nazi Empire on the History channel, complete with subliminal lead ins for the past week. I am really sick of the one sided views portrayed in our media, TV shows, and ads. Many, many Canadians feel the same as I do. The picture above is actually called a Backhoe, and would fit in my garage. Talk about WMD’s!
    Unfortunately, our leaders have aligned themselves with the War Criminals and financial terrorists South of our border. Your site is very informative. Thanks for all of your efforts. Stay safe. Peace!

  5. gmathol said,

    July 27, 2008 at 02:14

    …the prefered bulldozers are the Caterpillar brand.

  6. July 27, 2008 at 17:06

    […] Jerusalem Bulldozer Phobia Palestinian and Jewish bulldozer drivers alike say they live in fear of being mistaken for attackers.  In less than a month, two Palestinian bulldozer drivers killed three Israelis and injured dozens after rampaging through Jerusalem’s busy streets. Both drivers were shot dead.  >>>>> […]

  7. 5-Pillar Scribe said,

    July 27, 2008 at 17:07

    As people live under occupation, expect them, as anyone would eventually expect for themselves, to use any resource available to stop the injustice and suffering. To help paint a picture; someone invades your home, and is armed, and wants to attack your children and have shown that they are violent, and you are in the kitchen, what do you attempt to grab to defend yourself [pots, knives, utensils, the kitchen sink — associate that with bulldozer]?

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