Seven people, including a family of five with young children, were lightly wounded in the West Bank Friday afternoon when a Palestinian man hurled acid into their car, before being shot and seriously wounded.
The attack occurred near a checkpoint between the Gush Etzion settlement of Beitar Illit, where the family is from, and the Palestinian village of Husan, southwest of Jerusalem.
Palestinian news agency Ma’an identified the attacker as Jamal Abd al-Majid Ghayatha, 45, from the West Bank village of Nahalin. Media networks affiliated with Hamas said the man was a former Palestinian prisoner in Israeli jail, Israel Radio reported.
The IDF said in a statement Friday that he was “known to have been previously involved in illegal and hostile riots and activities.”
The father of the family, in his 50s, was hit in the face with the liquid, causing burns to his eyes. He was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem in Jerusalem for treatment. The mother, her three daughters aged 8 to 10, and her niece, were taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the capital with light injuries.
Ghayatha was being treated at Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem as well.
The family had stopped their vehicle at the at the Al-Hader Junction to pick up a hitchhiker when Ghayatha, who was standing next to the man, attacked all of them with the acid.
Earlier reports said the Palestinian man himself was posing as a hitchhiker.
The IDF said he was armed with a screwdriver and then began chasing people. He was in turn chased by civilians who stopped their cars at the scene to help. An armed civilian who was driving by shot Ghayata twice in the lower extremities, seriously injuring him. The attacker was then apprehended by Border Police.
The hitchhiker was identified as Moshe Claude Kamon, an ultra-Orthodox driver, who had just gotten off a bus and was looking for a way to his home in Beitar Illit.
“I had just gotten to the junction, when a car stopped. An Arab man approached me from the right and asked for the time, and then threw a cup or bottle of liquid into my face, which hit my eyes,” said Kamon, who added that he knew his life was in danger.
Medics who arrived at the scene administered initial treatment to the wounded before evacuating them to hospital.
Earlier, in a separate incident, a Palestinian man drove his car into a concrete barrier near two IDF soldiers as they stood at a bus stop near an army base south of Nablus.
The man was lightly wounded and taken for questioning as initial suspicions were that he attempted to run over the soldiers in a terrorist attack. The IDF said later Friday that a joint IDF, Shin Bet and police investigation concluded that the incident was a car accident.
Car terrorist attacks by Palestinians have killed five people in recent months. Last month two Palestinian terrorists entered a Jerusalem synagogue and attacked worshipers there with knives and a gun, leaving four worshipers and a policeman dead.
Friday’s attack comes during a period of tensions between Israelis and Palestinians and a wave of unrest in the West Bank and in Arab East Jerusalem.
These were compounded this week by the death of Palestinian Authority official Ziad Abu Ein in a clash with Israeli troops on Wednesday. Israeli officials have said a postmortem — attended by Palestinian and Jordanian physicians — showed Abu Ein died of a heart attack, possibly caused by the stress of the situation as well as a preexisting heart condition. Palestinians have disputed this claim, saying he died after being struck by soldiers and inhaling tear gas.
Abu Ein’s death has enraged the PA and is seen as a potentially perilous development, carrying with it the prospect of an escalation in violence.