The wife of a Palestinian man suspected of intentionally running over two people in the capital on Wednesday night, killing one of them, insisted her husband has no interest in politics and is not guilty of a nationalistically motivated attack.
Police on Thursday said Khaled Koutineh was suspected of intentionally ramming his car into a bus stop in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighborhood, killing 25-year-old Shalom Sherki and critically injuring 20-year-old Shira Klein.
But Koutineh’s family told Palestinian media on Thursday night that he could not have had malicious intent, Ynet News reported. Koutineh’s wife said the 37-year-old man, a resident of East Jerusalem, had left his house at around 10 p.m. Wednesday to drive his parents to their home in Jerusalem’s Old City.
According to Koutineh’s wife, hitting the two was an accident caused by the bad weather at the time.
“He has no political awareness. He doesn’t even watch the news,” she said.
On Thursday, thousands of people attended the Jerusalem funeral of Sherki. His father, Rabbi Uri Sherki, praised his son for saving the life of Klein, who remains hospitalized in critical condition.
The father said that “the doctors who treated you said that, without a doubt, you saved the life of the woman who stood next to you.”
Sherki’s brother Yair, a Channel 2 reporter, said he was convinced his brother was killed in a terror attack.
“I saw the photos of the attack. I have no doubt that this was not an accident,” he commented.
Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino has also said the attack was likely an act of terrorism.
Police and the Shin Bet security service have interrogated Koutineh, whose lawyer has claimed it was an accidental crash.
The capital has seen a spate of car-ramming attacks over the past year, in which Palestinian “lone-wolf” assailants have used their vehicles as weapons to mow down Israeli civilians. Such attacks are usually spontaneous and are not thought to be orchestrated by terrorist organizations.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.