An Israel Defense Forces officer described Thursday how a swift response by him and another soldier brought an end to a West Bank vehicular attack that left two of the soldiers under his command seriously wounded.
The soldiers were on patrol Thursday afternoon when a Palestinian deliberately drove his car into them, but Lieutenant Daniel Elbaz and another soldier quickly opened fire, wounding the driver and causing his car to flip.
“I realize it’s hostile terrorist activity,” Elbaz said. “I see the terrorist trying to exit the vehicle, shoot and neutralize [him].”
Elbaz was lightly injured in Thursday’s attack at the Sinjil junction in the northern West Bank, near the Shiloh settlement. Two of his soldiers were seriously hurt.
“At 15:00 I was carrying out my tasks [on patrol] in the sector, providing back-up to forces in Judea and Samaria,” Elbaz said from his hospital bed, his right hand and arm swathed in bandages. “At around 15:15 a vehicle approaches me at high speed. Just before it reaches me it swerves sharply, hits me along with two of my soldiers.”
With two of the four-man patrol down, Elbaz and the remaining uninjured soldier opened fire at the speeding car, which apparently swerved under the hail of bullets and flipped over.
The driver, later identified by Palestinian security officials as Mohammed Badwan, was seriously injured and security forces removed him from the car after checking there were no explosives on board. IDF troops later searched his home in the village of Biddu, southeast of Ramallah.
When a helicopter took one of the seriously injured soldiers to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem, Elbaz followed by ambulance. The other injured soldier was taken by ambulance to Beilinson Hospital near Rehovot.
Badwan was evacuated by ambulance for treatment at Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
Elbaz’s quick action and that of his patrol drew widespread praise from Israeli officials led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“I would like to praise the action of the IDF soldiers who reacted quickly and neutralized the terrorist, and to wish a full recovery to the injured,” Netanyahu said.
“I am proud of our soldiers who reacted immediately and hit the terrorist,” President Reuven Rivlin said.
The Zionist Union party also commended the soldiers, with MK Tzipi Livni calling their response “the way to act against terror.”
The attack took place not far from the village of Duma, where a Palestinian baby was burned to death early last Friday in a firebombing attack allegedly carried out by Jewish terrorists. Security forces have been bracing for revenge attacks, and the soldiers who were injured in Thursday’s attack had been deployed to the area to help guard against such attacks, security sources said.