A Palestinian motorist drove into a group of Israeli civilians in the West Bank Thursday afternoon, in what police and security services are treating as a terror attack.
At around 1:30 pm, Judea and Samaria District police said that a black vehicle drove into two pedestrians at the Alon Shvut junction, before fleeing the scene.
By mid-afternoon, two victims aged 16 and 17 were brought to Sha’are Tzedek, one moderately injured with wounds to the hip and the other lightly wounded. Two victims were also brought for treatment at Hadassah Ein Kerem, a 20-year-old man in serious condition, and a 25-year-old man with light injuries.
One of the wounded is a dual US-Israel citizen in serious condition with a head injury, a relative said. The family member described the man as a 19-year-old studying at a yeshiva near the site of the incident.
The Shin Bet said in a statement on Thursday evening that the driver had confessed to hitting the passengers intentionally, and that he did so for nationalist reasons. The Shin Bet named him as Muhammed Arfaaya, 22, from Hebron. They added that a year ago he was released from prison after serving a sentence for throwing stones and carrying a weapon. They said they are also checking if he was influenced by what they referred to as “incitement on social networking and Facebook”.
Around an hour after the incident, the IDF said that a car matching the vehicle’s description was stopped by soldiers at a checkpoint at Gush Etzion junction near the scene of the crime and that the driver was taken for questioning by security services.
A security officer stationed near the Gush Etzion junction said that minutes after the driver hit the teens, he pulled over at a bus stop and approached a group of soldiers while holding his stomach. The officer said the soldiers told him the man appeared to be in shock, was speaking incoherently and that the IDF medics offered to treat him. The officer said the soldiers told him they then noticed the black car and realized that it may be linked to the suspected attack, and detained the driver and took him into a nearby pillbox.
The officer said that the vehicle was a late model, black Mitsubishi with Israeli plates, and that a check run on the police computers showed it as stolen.
Yoni Silman, a Magen David Adom paramedic who responded to the call, said that at the scene of the crime they found three teens lying in the road next to a bus stop, all fully conscious and suffering injuries to their lower bodies. The three were evacuated to Hadassah Ein Kerem and Sha’are Tzedek by MDA and the army.