An IDF officer was seriously injured and a Border Police soldier was lightly injured after Palestinians rammed them with their car during an arrest operation in the West Bank, the military said on Monday.
The force opened fire on the vehicle’s three occupants, killing two and wounding the third, who was arrested. The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the two killed as 20-year-olds Amir Mahmoud Darraj from the Kharbatha al-Misbah village and Youssef Raed Mahmoud Anqawi from Beit Sira. The injured Palestinian, also aged 20, was identified as Haitham Jumaa Alqam from the village of Safa.
At the start of a meeting with the prime minister of Samoa, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised the IDF reaction to the attack and ordered that the homes belonging to the Palestinian attackers be demolished.
“This morning, the IDF soldiers acted swiftly and killed the terrorists who threatened to run them over,” Netanyahu said.
“We send our best to the wounded officer for quick recovery and we will do everything to speed up the demolition of these murderers’ houses, like the murderer of Ori Ansbacher,” he said, referring to the 19-year-old woman who was raped and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist outside Jerusalem last month. “I gave instructions to speed up the demolitions of these homes within the limitations of the judicial system. We are determined to continue our vigorous struggle against murderers and against terror wherever it is.”
Hamas, meanwhile, praised the attack, saying: “The two shaheeds [martyrs] who were killed in the early hours of the morning, in the west of Ramallah, emphasize that the rebellious youth in the West Bank will not rest until they achieve the full rights of our people, and our holy places are liberated.” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem added that “the plan to make Jerusalem Jewish will not pass.”
The soldiers had been conducting arrest raids in the West Bank village of Nima near Ramallah when, according to Hebrew media, their vehicle broke down as they exited the area.
The troops had been standing outside their vehicle trying to move it when they were struck by the Palestinian car
“When we arrived, they led us to an IDF medical force that treated two young people who were injured by a car. They were both fully conscious. We treated a young man in his twenties who was suffering from extensive systemic injuries. We gave him life-saving medical treatment including sedation and ventilation and evacuated him to the hospital in severe and stable condition,” said MDA paramedic Ahuva Stern, adding that the other soldier suffered bruising to his limbs.
The two injured servicemen were evacuated to Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan for medical attention.
According to medical officials, the seriously wounded officer sustained injuries throughout his body, while the lightly wounded Border Police guard was released from the hospital later in the morning after being examined by doctors.
According to a statement released by the IDF, the Palestinians in the car had thrown Molotov cocktails at a crossing near Route 443 earlier that night and several additional Molotov cocktails were found in the car.
Since October 2015, Palestinians have stabbed, run over and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, including some tourists, in waves of violence in the West Bank and Israel. While the violence has decreased since its peak in the winter of 2016 when there were almost daily attacks, they remain a significant threat.
Israeli defense officials have warned that 2019 may see an escalation in violence in the already restive West Bank and Gaza Strip, because of the ongoing power struggle between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, the worsening health of PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the release of the United States peace plan and the upcoming Israeli elections.
While the economic situation is much better in the West Bank compared to the Gaza Strip, it has gotten much worse since US President Donald Trump’s administration stopped funding for the UN Palestinian refugee agency UNRWA.
In August, when the $200 million cut to UNRWA was announced, a senior IDF officer in the West Bank warned that the aid being stopped “is a big blow to Palestinians,” and that the military was “concerned that if the schools aren’t funded, the youth will go out and carry out attacks.”
With an employment rate at 27.4% (the highest in the world according to Reuters), and with half of Palestinians under the age of 30 unemployed, the youth of the West Bank are losing hope and becoming more desperate. The incitement in Palestinian media against Israel, including by Abbas, has not helped calm the situation.
Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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