In an attack horrifically reminiscent of scenes that have occurred in Israel, three people (later reports talk of 4 or even 5 victims) were killed yesterday in a car-ramming and stabbing terror attack on the streets of London outside the Houses of Parliament, carried out by a British-born terrorist:
At least three people, including a police officer, were killed and twenty people were reported injured in a vehicular ramming attack near the British Parliament in London Wednesday afternoon, according to media reports.
According to witnesses, a car mowed down a dozen pedestrians on the Westminster Bridge before crashing into the gates outside of the Portcullis House, The Sun reported.
Two men have reportedly been shot by police after attempting to to stab officers outside of the Houses of Parliament.
“We heard a loud bang, lots of shouting and saw men running around. Someone rushed through, attacked a policeman,” a witness told The Sun. “He appeared to be carrying a knife or a gun. We then heard gunfire, five or six rounds.”
In addition to the three victims. the terrorist was also killed.
The London police announced that they are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.
Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely condemned the attack. “Israel expresses its deep shock at the terror attack in London today and its solidarity with the victims and with the people and government of Great Britain. Terror is terror wherever it occurs and we will fight it relentlessly.”
Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon, said: “Israel stands as one with the British people as we all work together to defeat the scourge of terrorism. We send our condolences and wish a speedy recovery to all those injured.”
The Times of Israel adds:
A knife-wielding man went on a deadly rampage at the heart of Britain’s seat of power Wednesday, mowing down pedestrians on London’s Westminster Bridge before stabbing an armed police officer to death inside the gates of Parliament. Four people were killed, including the attacker, and about 20 others were injured.
Lawmakers, lords, staff and visitors were locked down as the man was shot by police within the perimeter of Parliament and just yards (meters) from entrances to the building itself. He died, as did two pedestrians on the bridge, and the police officer.
A doctor who treated the wounded said some had “catastrophic” injuries.
In the House of Commons, deputy Speaker Lindsay Hoyle announced that the sitting was being suspended and told lawmakers not to leave.
After leaving a trail of destruction on the bridge in a gray SUV, the attacker managed to get through tall iron gates and into Parliament’s New Palace Yard, a cobbled courtyard in the shadow of the Big Ben clock tower.
Just yards to the right is the entrance to 1,000-year-old Westminster Hall, the oldest part of the parliamentary complex, busy with visitors and school groups. Beyond that, a corridor leads to the building’s Central Lobby, flanked by House of Commons and House of Lords chambers.
Prime Minister Theresa May was among lawmakers near the Commons at the time of the attack, and was quickly ushered away by security officers and driven back to Downing St.
To get that far, the attacker would have had to evade the armed officers who patrol the Parliament complex in pairs, as well as Parliament’s own security staff, who don’t carry guns.
The attack unfolded within sight of some of the city’s most famous tourist sites, including the London Eye, a large Ferris wheel with pods that overlook the capital. It stopped rotating and footage showed the pods full as viewers watched police and medical crews on the bridge, which has at its north end Big Ben and Parliament, two iconic symbols.
“The whole length of the bridge there were people on the ground,” witness Richard Tice told Sky News. The London Ambulance Service said it had treated at least 10 people on the bridge, and British port officials said a woman was pulled from the River Thames, injured but alive.
The Daily Mail illustrates the path taken by the terrorist:
This is the path of destruction in London on Wednesday when pedestrians on Westminster Bridge were mowed down by a frantic driver before a police officer in the Houses of Parliament was stabbed. The terror began at the south London end of the bridge when a driver in a Hyundai 4X4 mounted the pavement, mowing down the first pedestrians. He continued along the pavement, ploughing through at least a dozen people in total, before coming to a stop at the Houses of Parliament where he crashed his Hyundai 4X4 into railings. Either he or another attacker then burst through Old Palace Yard at the Houses of Parliament where a police officer was stabbed.
British Prime Minister Theresa May denounced the attack as sick and depraved:
“The full details of exactly what happened are still emerging. But, having been updated by police and security officials, I can confirm that this appalling incident began when a single attacker drove his vehicle into pedestrians walking across Westminster Bridge, killing two people and injuring many more, including three police officers,” she continued.
“This attacker, who was armed with a knife, then ran towards Parliament where he was confronted by the police officers who keep us – and our democratic institutions – safe. Tragically, one officer was killed. The terrorist was also shot dead.”
May stressed that the United Kingdom’s threat level will continue to be set at severe and added that “the location of this attack was no accident.”
“The terrorists chose to strike at the heart of our capital city, where people of all nationalities, religions and cultures come together to celebrate the values of liberty, democracy and freedom of speech,” she continued. “These streets of Westminster – home to the world’s oldest Parliament – are engrained with a spirit of freedom that echoes in some of the furthest corners of the globe. And the values our Parliament represents – democracy, freedom, human rights, the rule of law – command the admiration and respect of free people everywhere. That is why it is a target for those who reject those values.”
“But let me make it clear today, as I have had cause to do before: any attempt to defeat those values through violence and terror is doomed to failure,” May said.
One of the heroes of the day was MP Tobias Ellwood who administered CPR to the wounded policeman, unfortunately unsuccessfully:
Ellwood, a former soldier, administered chest compressions, gave mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and improvised to stem the flow of blood from the policeman’s wounds until an air ambulance landed in the grounds. The policeman as since reportedly died, taking the total to two victims in the attack.
The Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister, who has responsibility for Israel and the Palestinian Territories, was photographed administering aid to the stricken policeman in the immediate aftermath of the Wednesday afternoon attack. He was later seen with blood on his hands and face.
Alistair Burt, who served as middle east minister before Ellwood, told Jewish News: “Tobias Ellwood is the very best of us. To rush towards trouble is the action of a brave man, and my admiration of my colleague knows no bounds.”
Mike Freer, MP for Finchley and Golders Green said: “Tobias reacted magnificently. The experience must have been painful given his family loss in a terrorist incident. The police acted amazingly well. Day in day out they protect us and put their life’s at risk. Sadly Tobias’s actions couldn’t save the police officer.”
Mr. Ellwood lost his brother Jon in the Bali terrorist attack in 2002.
Israel sent its condolences to the British after the attack and Tel Aviv City Hall was lit up with the UK flag in solidarity:
A timely reminder of what the world faces today:
As for the ridiculously excruciating wonderment at the “motives” of the terrorist, here is the inimitable Kay Wilson, noting every possible descriptor of the terrorist except the obvious one:
I suggested that maybe he is upset at the prices in Marks & Spencer. That would be enough to set off anyone!
In a shocking new development, the BBC has rediscovered the word terror. Jewish community says “It’s a total surprise. We did not see that coming.”
In all seriousness, compare today’s reporting on the BBC to the way they reported the terror attack in Israel last year, in which 4 Israeli soldiers were killed – the headline read “Jerusalem lorry attack: Four soldiers killed” – as if a lorry was radicalized and decided independently to ram some soldiers, rather than a vicious cold-blooded terrorist – and you get an idea of the ingrained bias at the BBC. (h/t Neil Turner).
The end result is that when terrorism in Israel is minimised in the media, it simply emboldens the terrorists to think that such attacks are acceptable everywhere.
It starts with the Jews but rarely ends there. Let’s hope that Theresa May lives up to her promises to crack down on extremism.
I join all Israelis in sending my sympathies to the British people, condolences to those who lost loved ones, and wishing a speedy recovery to the wounded.