West Bank vehicle attack: Driver slams vehicle into Israeli soldiers
The Israeli military says a Palestinian motorist drove into a group of soldiers in the West Bank on Wednesday night, wounding three of them in a suspected attack on the same day as a separate similar attack in Jerusalem killed one person and wounded 13 others.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the driver of the "large commercial vehicle" bearing a Palestinian license plate fled the scene. Police were searching the area for the driver.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed the Jerusalem attack on incitement stemming from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and "his Hamas partners," a reference to a unity government led by Abbas and backed by the Islamic militant group.
Israel has been trying for months to quell the unrest in east Jerusalem that began this summer but has surged over tensions surrounding the holy site. Earlier in the day, Israeli police had dispersed dozens of masked Palestinians who threw rocks and firecrackers near the site in the Old City ahead of a visit by a group of Jewish activists
In the Jerusalem attack, police said the motorist drove the minivan into pedestrians waiting for the train at a stop. The driver backed out and drove away, hitting several cars along the way. He then got out of the van and attacked civilians and police officers on the side of the road with a metal bar before he was shot and killed.
The train stop where Wednesday's attack occurred is located along an unmarked line between west Jerusalem and the eastern sector captured in 1967.
Police identified the assailant as Ibrahim al-Akari, a 38-year-old Palestinian, and said he had recently been released from prison after serving time for security offences. His wife, Amira Soultan, told The Associated Press that he was inspired by the violence he saw at the mosque.
"He saw how the carpet of Al-Aqsa was burned. He saw it on his laptop, on Facebook and he went out," she said.
Several of the wounded were security officers who had been deployed in response to the recent unrest. Police said the man killed by al-Akari was a member of the paramilitary border police force from the Arab Druse minority.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said security forces were working to thwart more such attacks, which have occurred sporadically in Jerusalem before the recent violence.
"It's obviously a threat we're having to deal with," he said. Police said they plan to set up barricades near train stops to prevent the attacks.