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Page last updated at 13:38 GMT, Tuesday, 23 September 2008 14:38 UK

Jerusalem crash 'not deliberate'

Family of slain driver hold up his photograph
The family claim the 19-year-old driver was murdered by Israelis

Relatives of a Palestinian who was shot dead after his car ploughed into a group of Israelis at a bus stop have denied it was a deliberate attack.

Nineteen people, mostly soldiers, were treated for light or moderate wounds in the incident in central Jerusalem.

Off duty soldiers shot the 19-year-old driver, in what Israeli police have said was an attack.

"My son was murdered, they killed him. He did not carry out a terrorist attack" said the driver's father.

"This was a car accident. The car stopped after hitting a wall. Why did they kill him?" Mahmoud Mughrabi said at his home in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

Israeli police have said they were "100% sure" Qassem Mughrabi intended to carry out a deliberate attack, with one spokesmen saying a failed romance may have been the trigger.

Israeli police spokesman Shmuel Ben-Ruby said investigators had found Mr Mughrabi, who had no prior police record, "wanted to marry his cousin but when she refused he apparently decided to carry out the attack".

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Relatives confirmed the family situation, but said Mr Mughrabi had told them he was going out with friends and would be back soon.

Then he took the keys of his brother's BMW car and drove off.

Mr Mughrabi said his son did not have a licence and could not drive properly.

He also wished a speedy recovery to the injured soldiers.

Demolition deterrence

Israel security forces have been on the look-out for vehicle attacks since a Palestinian building worker went on a deadly rampage in July in a mechanical digger in Jerusalem, killing three people before he was shot dead.

There was an apparent copycat attack three weeks later in Jerusalem when 10 people were wounded by a Palestinian digger driver who was also shot dead.

Injured soldier
Most of the injured were soldiers deployed in central Jerusalem
Commenting on the latest incident, Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel must expedite the legal process leading to demolition of Palestinian attackers' homes.

"We need to take legal action in order to drastically expedite the process, so we can take action shortly after an attack happens and deter any future potential terrorists," he said.

The families of three Palestinians involved in attacks in Jerusalem this year - including the two digger drivers - have won Israeli court orders to prevent demolition of their homes.

Human rights groups say the house demolition policy is ineffective and illegal, violating the principle that one person cannot be punished for another's crimes.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. It is home to about 250,000 Palestinians and about 200,000 Israeli settlers.


FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Lebanon Daily Star Barak wants to punish family after latest Jerusalem attack - 9 hrs ago
Al Jazeera Jerusalem car crash 'an accident' - 28 hrs ago
Haaretz Father of Jerusalem attacker: My son's no terrorist - 35 hrs ago
Sydney Morning HeraldBarak urges swift retaliation on terrorists' homes - 38 hrs ago
Jerusalem Post 'J'lem terrorist was a Hamas member' - 39 hrs ago
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