The Palestinian driver who wounded three soldiers in a hit and run incident earlier this month did so intentionally, the Shin Bet cleared for publication on Thursday.
The driver, Hamam Masalma, is a 23-year-old Hamas member from Beit Awwa, west of Hebron, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) said.
The day after the November 5 collision near al-Arub, south of Bethlehem, Masalma turned himself in to police and claimed it was an accident and that he fled because he feared for his life. Under questioning, however, he confessed to planning the attack “because of the situation on the ground and after being inspired by the ramming attack [at the Shimon Hatzadik Light Rail Station] in Jerusalem on the same day and seeing the images from Operation Protective Edge,” the Shin Bet said in a statement on Thursday.
An indictment is expected to be issued against Masalma in the coming days, the agency said.
The day after the attack, security officials told reporters that the incident was most likely a traffic accident, possibly because the driver did not fit the profile of a terrorist.
The white van Masalma drove plowed into three soldiers who were standing on the side of the road. All three were rushed to Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem Hospital.
One soldier was seriously wounded, while another was treated in moderate condition and a third lightly wounded.
Surveillance camera footage of the incident shows three soldiers standing on the side of a bend in the road at night as a van hits all them without slowing.
IDF troops soon found the van, but Masalma was nowhere to be found. The next day he turned himself in police and security forces arrested a second man.
At the Shimon Hatzadik Light Rail Station, hours before the van hit the soldiers, Ibrahim al-Akry, an Israeli citizen from the capital’s Shuafat neighborhood, drove into bystanders and killed Border Police officer Jedan Assad, 38, from the Druse village of Beit Jann and wounded 13 people. Shalom Aharon Ba’adani, 17, died from his wounds in the Hadassah Medical Center two days later.
Police killed the terrorist at the scene.