Palestinian motorist killed after alleged car ramming attack
Israeli forces on Sunday shot and killed a Palestinian motorist who slammed his car into a bus stop in the occupied West Bank — the latest in a monthslong wave of deadly violence that shows no signs of slowing.
The incident came a day after a Palestinian gunman killed an Israeli man near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, and just two days before Israel holds national elections.
In Sunday’s violence, the Israeli military said the Palestinian driver drove his car toward a group of soldiers at a bus stop near the Palestinian town of Jericho, and then continued to a nearby intersection where other soldiers were standing. It said a total of five soldiers suffered light or moderate injuries. It said an Israeli police officer and armed civilian were at the scene and shot the motorist.
An amateur video showed the car veering off the highway and slamming into a bus stop at high speed. Several people are seen running away as a security guard jumps out of a pickup truck and rushes toward the car.
In another video, two Israelis are seen firing over a dozen bullets at the man as he stands outside his vehicle. Another video appeared to show an Israeli soldier on the ground writhing in pain.
The suspect was pronounced dead at an Israeli hospital. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified him as a 49-year-old resident of Azariya, a Palestinian town east of Jerusalem.
Palestinian attackers have carried out dozens of attempted stabbings, shootings and car rammings in recent years. But Palestinians and human rights groups have accused Israel of using excessive force against suspected attackers. Israel says it uses deadly force only in life-threatening situations.
In the southern West Bank, meanwhile, the Israeli military began preparations to demolish the home of the gunman who carried out Saturday night’s attack. Several people were also wounded in the shooting late Saturday.
Dramatic security camera video showed the assailant firing his assault rifle outside a grocery before a security guard rammed him with his truck and pinned him to the ground. An off-duty military officer then opened fire and killed the assailant, later identified as Mohammed Jaaberi, 35.
The attack took place between Hebron, the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank, and Kiryat Arba, a nearby Israeli settlement. Jaaberi was from Hebron.
The military said Sunday it arrested one of Jaaberi’s brothers and mapped out the family home in a first step toward eventual demolition.
Israel routinely demolishes the homes of Palestinian assailants, arguing that it serves as a deterrent against future violence — even though the military had halted the practice for years after concluding it was counter-productive. Human rights groups have denounced punitive demolitions as collective punishment.
This year is on track to be the deadliest in the West Bank since the United Nations started monitoring fatalities in 2005.
It remains unclear what, if any, impact the violence might have on Tuesday’s Israeli election, which opinion polls say is too close to forecast. While the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not the central issue of the campaign, a rise in violence tends to help right-wing parties that advocate harsh measures against Palestinians.
More than 130 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year. The fighting has surged since a series of Palestinian attacks killed 19 people in Israel in the spring. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and in the decades since has built dozens of settlements, now home to nearly 500,000 Israelis living alongside around 2.5 million Palestinians. The Palestinians seek the territory, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as a future independent state. There have been no substantive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in over a decade.