By Jeffrey Heller and Avida Landau
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A Palestinian construction workerrammed a bulldozer into buses and cars on one of westJerusalem's busiest streets on Wednesday, killing threeIsraelis and wounding more than 40 before he was shot dead.
Israeli police said the driver of the 20-tonne earthmovingvehicle was killed by a civilian and a policeman who clamberedonto the cab as it wrought havoc along Jaffa Road, overturninga city bus and crushing cars along a 500-metre (yard) stretch.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility frommilitant groups. Relatives and police named the attacker as30-year-old Hosam Dwayyat, a construction worker from Arab EastJerusalem. Police were trying to establish whether he had actedalone.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev said the attack"was an act of senseless, murderous violence". An aide toPalestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called it an attempt towreck peace negotiations and urged Israel to show restraint inits response.
Abbas's opponents in Hamas and Islamic Jihad said theattack was a "natural" response by Palestinians to Israeliaggression but, nearly two weeks into a truce in the GazaStrip, neither Islamist group said it was responsible for theincident.
U.S. President George W. Bush called Israeli Prime MinisterEhud Olmert to offer condolences, Israeli spokesman Regev said.
Television footage showed bystanders pursuing the yellowroadworking vehicle as it ploughed through the early lunchtimetraffic. Men in civilian clothes had climbed aboard and onefired a pistol into the cab as others wrestled inside.
After the struggle, a helmeted policeman in body armourfired his assault rifle into the slumped figure in the cab. Theofficer later told reporters that he had fired twice, fearingthe wounded man still posed a danger to the public.
"A bulldozer driven by an Arab went on a rampage on JaffaRoad, hitting pedestrians, buses and cars," police spokesmanShmuel Ben-Ruby said.
Witness Moshe Oren said at the scene: "The only way to stophim was with a bullet to the head. We saw a civilian climb ontothe bulldozer and shoot the man. We were relieved."
Medical officials said more than 40 people were taken tohospital. Two Israeli men and a women died.
It was the first Arab attack in Jewish west Jerusalem sincea gunman killed eight students on March 6 at a Jewish religiousschool a short distance from Jaffa Road.
Among the vehicles damaged was a van with its entire frontcrushed and a No. 13 commuter bus, flipped on its side andgashed by the shovel of the bulldozer. Blood smeared the bus'sshattered windscreen and trailed along the street.
To one side, the road has been dug up as part of a projectto build a light railway through the city.
The scene in the aftermath of the incident was reminiscentof numerous suicide bombings that destroyed buses on Jaffa Roadduring a wave of attacks in 1996 and during the first years ofa Palestinian uprising that began in 2000.
Since then, fatal attacks on Israelis have becomerelatively rare, despite frequent rocket and mortar fire fromGaza. Israeli forces have killed more than 360 Palestiniansthis year, mostly in Gaza. More than 100 of the Palestiniandead were civilians.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in Gaza his group didnot expect the attack to "influence the Gaza calm".
"There is a continued aggression against our people in theWest Bank and Jerusalem and so it is natural that our peoplethere will respond to such aggression," he said.
Hamas's allies, Islamic Jihad, said in a statement: "TheJerusalem Brigades bless the heroic operation in Jerusalem asthe natural reaction to the crimes of the occupation."
Unlike Palestinians in the blockaded Gaza Strip and in theoccupied West Bank, those living in occupied East Jerusalemhave free access to the Jewish west of the city and to Israel.
Arab and Jewish populations do not mix extensively, butthousands of Palestinians work on Israel's roads and buildingsites. The gunman who attacked the seminary in March was fromEast Jerusalem. That attack was claimed by Hamas officials.
At Gaza's border crossing with Egypt, Egyptian forces usedwater cannon and Hamas security forces had to restrain a crowdjostling for access during a brief opening of the Rafahcrossing point between the Palestinian enclave and its Arabneighbour.
Some Palestinians threw stones at Egyptian forces and alsocomplained of Hamas's failure to speed their passage to Egypt,the only access to the outside world for most Gazans, who areblocked from other land, sea and air routes by Israel.