4 police officers hurt in suspected terror ramming in central Israel; suspect killed

Attacker named as Waheb Sabita, 26, of Tira; family says it warned police he had suicidal intentions and had been diagnosed with ‘mental disorder’

The scene of a car ramming attack in Kochav Yair, early on April 3, 2024 (video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
The scene of a car ramming attack in Kochav Yair, early on April 3, 2024 (video screenshot; used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Four police officers were injured, one of them seriously, in a suspected terror ramming near the central town of Kochav Yair, close to the Green Line, overnight Tuesday.

After striking the group of four officers near Kochav Yair Junction, the suspect drove to the nearby Eliyahu Crossing — a West Bank checkpoint — where he attempted to stab the security forces on site, who opened fire at him, police said.

In addition to a 23-year-old seriously wounded officer who was taken to a nearby hospital, another cop, 46, was moderately injured and two were lightly wounded, medical authorities said.

The suspected terrorist was pronounced dead at the scene, police said, adding that they had determined that the attacker had acted alone.

He was named as Waheb Sabita, a 26-year-old resident of the neighboring Arab Israeli town of Tira.

The Defense Ministry published footage of the second part of the attack, at the checkpoint.

The footage showed Sabita rushing at security guards at the Eliyahu Crossing with a knife, while wearing flip-flops, before being shot dead.

In a statement, Sabita’s family said that the suspect’s brother had reported to police that Waheb was having a psychotic attack and had threatened to commit suicide 10 minutes before the attack took place.

“He was a quiet and introverted boy, who recently was diagnosed with a mental disorder and received home care,” they said.

“All we are asking for today is the right to bury the body and for a factual and fair investigation to be conducted, emphasizing our criticism of the ease with which the police officers pull the trigger when it comes to Arab citizens and stressing our clear position against violence in all its forms,” the family added.

While such attacks are more common in the West Bank, the overnight incident joins several that have taken place within Israel proper in recent weeks.

On Monday three people were seriously wounded in a terror knifing at a mall in the southern  city of Gan Yavne, and an off-duty Israel Defense Forces officer was stabbed and lightly wounded in a terror attack at Beersheba’s central bus station.

Tensions in Israel and the West Bank have been high since October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists burst through the Gaza border into Israel in a Hamas-led attack, killing at least 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and seizing 253 hostages.

Authorities have expressed worries that violence could ratchet upward during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, though the past three weeks have not seen a major uptick in attacks.

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