By Oren Liebermann, Michael Schwartz and Amy La Porte

JERUSALEM (CNN) — A truck plowed into a group of soldiers in Jerusalem, killing four people and injuring at least 13, Israel’s emergency services said Sunday.

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Three of the four killed were female soldiers, Israeli Education Minister Neftali Bennett said. The fourth person killed was a young man, but it was not immediately clear whether he was a soldier.

All of the slain victims were in their 20s.

“A group had gotten off the bus and were getting organized with their bags when the terrorist took the opportunity, ramming his truck into the group,” Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

“Then he in fact reversed and tried to ram them again until shots were fired, and the terrorist was shot and killed at the scene.”
Hamas, the militant fundamentalist Islamic organization, praised the attacker on Twitter.

“We bless the courageous and heroic truck operation in Jerusalem,” the group tweeted. “It comes within the context of the normal response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation.”

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The attack happened on a popular promenade overlooking the walled Old City of Jerusalem.

In a statement, Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, said there was “no limit to the cruelty of the terrorists who use every means to murder Jews and damage the routine life in the capital of Israel.”

Hamas’ goal is the creation of an Islamic fundamentalist Palestinian state and the destruction of the state of Israel.

Hamas members, like most Palestinian factions and political parties, insist that Israel is an occupying power and that its group is simply trying to liberate the Palestinian territories.

The US considers Hamas a terrorist organization. Hamas operates hospitals, religious institutions, soup kitchens and orphanages in Gaza and the West Bank and runs an effective social welfare program in the territories, leading to a degree of popularity among many Palestinians.

Diplomatic tensions have flared between the US and Israel in recent weeks after the Obama administration decided not to veto a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel and its construction of new settlements in East Jerusalem.

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