JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian motorist slammed his car into a group of Israeli soldiers early yesterday, wounding 12 before fleeing the scene, the Israeli military said, while in the West Bank, a 19-year-old Palestinian was killed in clashes with Israeli troops, according to Palestinian hospital officials.
The uptick in violence comes just days after United States (US) President Donald Trump unveiled his long awaited Mideast plan, which greatly favours Israel and has been rejected by the Palestinians. The plan has sparked calls by Israeli nationalists for Israel to annex parts of the West Bank — land Palestinians want for their hoped-for state — and has set off tensions in the region.
Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said one of the 12 injured in Jerusalem was seriously hurt, the others were lightly injured.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incident was being treated as a “terror attack”, and said Israeli forces were searching for the assailant.
Palestinian hospital officials said the 19-year-old was killed in clashes in the West Bank city of Jenin. Six others were wounded in the confrontation. That death came just hours after Israeli forces shot and killed a 17-year-old Palestinian during clashes with demonstrators elsewhere in the West Bank on Wednesday.
“Attacks from Gaza, an attack in Jerusalem, signs of a rise in hostile activity in Jenin. Yesterday friction in Hebron. We are not trying to escalate the situation while understanding the complexity and sensitivity of the situation,” Conricus said, stopping short of directly linking the spate of violence to Trump’s plan.
In the Jerusalem incident, the troops were out on an “educational heritage tour”, near a popular entertainment district in Jerusalem when the motorist rammed his car into them and fled.
Such acts of violence were common in Jerusalem during a low-level wave of near-daily attacks last decade, but they tapered off and car rammings have become infrequent in recent years.
In the West Bank, Conricus said troops were carrying out the demolition of a home belonging to a militant allegedly involved in a deadly attack.
He said there was a “sizable riot” at the scene by Palestinians who threw Molotov cocktails at troops, who then came under sniper fire. Conricus said forces responded to the violence with their own sniper fire, saying a Palestinian shooter was killed.
He could not confirm whether the 19-year-old was the sniper. He said there had been an “uptick in intensity” in the means used against Israeli troops in the West Bank.
Jenin governor Akram Rajoub said the 19-year-old, a student at an academy that trains budding police officers, was throwing stones at the troops.
Additionally, Conricus said an exchange of fire in Jenin wounded a member of the Palestinian security forces. Conricus said he did not know the circumstances behind the confrontation or whether the security forces member had fired on troops.
He said the incident was being looked into. Rajoub said the man was not involved in clashes and that he was standing in front of a police station when he was hit by a bullet in the abdomen.
Also yesterday, Israel struck Hamas positions in the Gaza Strip after three mortar shells were fired at Israel. There was no immediate report of injuries on either side.
Unveiled last week at the White House with much fanfare, Trump’s plan envisions a disjointed Palestinian state that turns over key parts of the West Bank to Israel.
It sides with Israel on key contentious issues that have bedevilled past peace efforts, including borders and the status of Jerusalem and Jewish West Bank settlements, and attaches nearly impossible conditions for granting the Palestinians their hoped-for state.
The plan was greeted ecstatically in Israel, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowing to speed ahead with annexing parts of the West Bank.