14 soldiers wounded, 1 seriously, in suspected terror car-ramming in Jerusalem

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Police launch manhunt for driver and vehicle that fled scene near city’s popular First Station entertainment hub; Golani soldiers were on tour ahead of Western Wall ceremony

By Judah Ari Gross and TOI staff

Medics at the scene of a suspected car-ramming attack in Jerusalem on February 6, 2020 (MDA)

At least 14 soldiers were wounded, including one in a serious condition, in a suspected car-ramming terror attack in central Jerusalem early Thursday morning, police and medics said.

The incident occurred shortly before 2 a.m. near Jerusalem’s First Station, a popular entertainment hub. Police said the driver of the vehicle had fled the scene and “a large force of officers were carrying out searches.”

The military initially barred publication of the fact that the victims were soldiers until the families of the wounded could be notified.

IDF Spokesperson Hidai Zilberman said the troops were members of the Golani Brigade who were at the First Station during a “heritage tour” ahead of an early morning swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall.

Magen David Adom medics said one of the wounded “was in a serious condition, unconscious and suffering major trauma.”

A second soldier was moderately injured with wounds to his limbs. The rest were lightly hurt and were evacuated to hospitals in the capital.

“When we arrived at the scene we saw chaos, three youths were lying on the sidewalk, and nearby 9 others were gathered who had been hurt,” said medic Oz Faulk.

According to Zilberman, an initial investigation into the attack found that the soldiers were standing on the sidewalk next to the station when the car rammed them suddenly at high-speed.

The vehicle then quickly fled the scene, prompting a large-scale manhunt by Israeli security forces.

It did not appear that the soldiers were able to shoot at the driver during or after the attack, Zilberman said.

“This happened in seconds. We understand that some soldiers tried to put magazines into their guns and tried to go after the car, but this happened quickly,” he told reporters.

The incident comes amid a rise in tensions following the release of US President Donald Trump’s plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The IDF has been on a heightened state of alert.

The Hamas terror group on Wednesday called on Palestinians to step up confrontations with Israel after Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian teenager, who the IDF said threw a Molotov cocktail at troops during clashes in the West Bank city of Hebron

“We call for escalating confrontations with the occupation and its settlers and fighting their assaults against the land and holy sites, especially the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas said in a statement posted on its official website, referring to the name Palestinians use to refer to the Temple Mount in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, has frequently encouraged Palestinians in the West Bank to clash with Israeli security forces and settlers.

The Palestinian Authority Health Ministry identified the teenager as 17-year-old Mohammed al-Haddad and said that he was shot in the heart.

According to the IDF, al-Haddad hurled a firebomb at soldiers at the entrance to Shuhada Street in the flashpoint city in the southern West Bank.

Small clashes between young Palestinians and Israeli security forces have intermittently taken place in some locations in the West Bank since the publication of Trump’s plan.

Breaking with past US administrations, the plan envisions the creation of a Palestinian state in about 70 percent of the West Bank, a small handful of neighborhoods in East Jerusalem, most of Gaza and some areas of southern Israel — if the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, disarm Hamas and other terror groups in the Gaza Strip, and fulfill other conditions.

The plan also allows Israel to annex settlements, grants the Jewish state sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and overriding security control west of the Jordan River, and bars Palestinian refugees from settling in Israel.

Both the PA and Hamas have vehemently rejected the initiative, with PA President Mahmoud Abbas calling it “the slap of the century.”

 

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