Israeli security forces on Thursday morning located the vehicle used in a car-ramming attack that injured a group of soldiers in Jerusalem earlier in the day, though the manhunt for the driver continued, officials said.
In the predawn hours of Thursday morning, an as-yet-unidentified assailant rammed his car into a group of Golani Brigade soldiers standing on Jerusalem’s David Remez Street outside the First Station, a popular entertainment hub in the capital. The troops were visiting Jerusalem ahead of an early morning swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall.
Twelve soldiers were injured in the attack, one of them seriously and the rest lightly, medics said. In the hours following the ramming, nine of them were released from the hospital. The severely wounded serviceman sustained injuries throughout this body and underwent surgery, according to officials from Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, where he was taken.
“The injured [soldier] continued to be in serious but stable condition. He is unconscious and connected to a respirator in the intensive care unit,” hospital officials said.
The car, which had Israeli license plates, was located in the Palestinian village of Beit Jala, outside of Bethlehem, south of the capital. Small-scale clashes broke out in the village and the surrounding area as Israeli troops searched for the driver, who had fled the scene after hitting the soldiers.
Palestinian media reported that Israeli troops seized security cameras around Bethlehem, apparently as part of the search effort.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israeli forces would soon capture the driver.
“It is only a matter of time — and not much time — until we get our hands on the assailant,” Netanyahu said in a statement.
The incident came 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.
Later on Thursday, a Border Police officer was lightly wounded when a terrorist opened fire at him near the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. Other officers at the scene returned fire, killing the assailant, police said.
On Thursday morning, following the ramming attack, the Golani Brigade held its swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall.
“A terrorist tried to damage the spirit of Israel and the spirit of the IDF, but we will continue with out tradition and not let it break our spirit,” said Lt. Col. Sivan Bloch of the Golani Brigade said at the ceremony.
According to IDF Spokesperson Hidai 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 reversed and fled the scene. 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 Hamas terror group on Thursday lauded the attack in a statement, saying it was a response to Trump’s plan.
The Gaza-based terror group also called on Palestinians to step up confrontations with Israel after Israeli security forces on Wednesday 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.
In addition, a Palestinian Authority police cadet was shot dead in clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli troops during the demolition of a terrorist’s home in the northern West Bank city of Jenin in the predawn hours of Thursday morning.
A second man, a PA police officer, died later Thursday when he succumbed to his wounds after he was shot by Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Jenin in which the military said were unclear circumstances.
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.”
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.