A soldier was killed and another lightly wounded when a Palestinian terrorist rammed them with his car as they stood guard at a Route 60 bus stop, just outside of the West Bank settlement of Ofra, on Thursday morning.
The attack was the second one this week and comes as Israeli officials have warned of a possible increase in violence surrounding the upcoming Passover and Easter holidays.
The victim, Sgt. Elchai Teharlev, 20, from the settlement of Talmon, was buried Thursday evening at Mount Herzl Military Cemetery in Jerusalem.
The assailant, 22-year-old Malik Hamad, is from the village of Silwad, which is adjacent to Ofra.
In the minutes before the attack, he had traveled up and down the road apparently seeking a target. Although the bus stop has protective bollards and cement blocks around it, he was still able to find a vulnerable spot and smashed into the two soldiers.
Hamad was arrested by soldiers after his vehicle skidded off the sidewalk and into the shrubbery.
MDA paramedic Ilan Klein, who was among the first responders to the scene, said Taharlev was not breathing and had no pulse when he arrived, and he could only pronounce his death.”
The second victim, also aged 20, was fully conscious after the attack and was taken to Hadassah-University Medical Center on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus.
According to the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Hamad was imprisoned for four months after being caught trying to infiltrate the West Bank settlement of Adam in 2015.
The rest of the circumstances are still under investigation, including whether Hamad is a Hamas member or sympathizer.
On Thursday afternoon, the IDF froze his family’s work permits, and security forces interrogated his relatives members.
Malik’s uncle, Abu Dhiab Hamid, said he believes that the incident was a car accident and not a terrorist attack. Hamid explained that Malik went to work with his father and had left early to go home.
Ofra residents called for Hamad’s home to be demolished and for action to be taken against his village.
Security forces must “use an iron fist against the hostile village [Silwad] that educates hatred and murder of Jews and which has produced a long line of Jewish murderers over the years,” an Ofra resident said.
Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim praised the attack on Facebook, saying that “the Jerusalem intifada is continuing its work, which will only end with freedom. Once again, the Jerusalem intifada proves that it isn’t a passing event, but rather a Palestinian decision to continue the struggle until freedom from occupation.”
On Saturday, a police officer was moderately wounded and two civilians were lightly wounded in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem’s Old City by a 17-year-old Palestinian assailant.
Last week, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman warned the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that the current calm is “deceptive” and that Hamas and other organized terrorist groups will try to carry out attacks over the Passover and Easter holidays.
President Reuven Rivlin said on Thursday that “The security services are working tirelessly to keep us safe, in a complicated battle in which the home front and the front line are one and the same. We will never allow terrorism to weaken us. Israeli society is strong, and we must stand firm in defense of our state and our land.”Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.