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Troops nab suspected car rammer, as soldiers he hit are sworn into unit

Attacker said to be East Jerusalem man with flower shop in Jerusalem shopping mall; injured Golani troops attend unit ceremony, some of them on crutches

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

IDF soldiers from the Golani brigade, hours after they were wounded in a car-ramming attack, take part in their swearing-in ceremony on February 6, 2020 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Insert: Suspected attacker Sanad al-Tourman. (IDF, social media)
IDF soldiers from the Golani brigade, hours after they were wounded in a car-ramming attack, take part in their swearing-in ceremony on February 6, 2020 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem. Insert: Suspected attacker Sanad al-Tourman. (IDF, social media)

Israeli security forces on Thursday evening arrested the suspected terrorist believed to have carried out a car-ramming attack that injured a dozen soldiers in Jerusalem earlier in the day, security officials said.

The arrest came as Golani Brigade soldiers run over in the attack went ahead with their swearing-in ceremony, some of them on crutches after being released from the hospital.

The suspect was arrested at the Gush Etzion Junction in the central West Bank, police said. The Shin Bet said the suspect was a 25-year-old resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of A-Tur who had no history of terrorist activity. He was identified as Sanad al-Turman, who according to Channel 13 news has a flower shop in a Jerusalem shopping mall.

He was handed over to the Shin Bet security service for questioning, according to the Israel Defense Forces.

IDF soldiers from the Golani brigade take part in their swearing-in ceremony on February 6, 2020 at the Western Wall in Jerusalem just hours after they were wounded in a car-ramming attack in the city. (Twitter screen capture/IDF)

In recent days Tourman had made several Facebook posts possible signaling his intentions, writing in one update: “I’ve found my answers,” and in another: “Whoever seeks peace with the enemy is living under an illusion. Never surrender.”

Sanad al-Tourman (social media)

In the predawn hours of Thursday morning, the assailant rammed his car into a group of Golani soldiers standing on Jerusalem’s David Remez Street outside the First Station, a popular entertainment hub in the capital, injuring 12 of them, one of them seriously.

The troops were visiting Jerusalem ahead of a planned swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall in the morning, which was delayed because of the attack but eventually went forward with some of the 12 injured soldiers. A second swearing-in ceremony, not at the Western Wall, was held later in the day for the troops involved in the attack.

Soldiers in the IDF Golani Brigade hold a swearing-in ceremony at the Western Wall in Jerusalem on February 6, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

“Following an extensive operational and intelligence effort, the IDF, working with the Shin Bet, the Israel Police’s special police unit and other special forces, has arrested the terrorist who carried out the ramming attack in the predawn hours of this morning in Jerusalem,” the military said in a statement.

After the attack, the assailant quickly fled the scene, abandoning his car in the West Bank town of Beit Jala, south of Jerusalem.

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.

Israeli troops arrest an Arab man at the Gush Etzion Junction in the West Bank who is suspected of ramming his car into a group of IDF soldiers, injuring 12 of them, in Jerusalem on February 6, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

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.

In the hours following the ramming, nine of the soldiers were released from the hospital. The severely wounded serviceman sustained injuries throughout his 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 Thursday.

The car, which had Israeli license plates, was located in Beit Jala, outside of Bethlehem, a few hours after the ramming. Small-scale clashes broke out in the village and the surrounding area throughout the day as Israeli troops searched for the driver.

Palestinian media reported that Israeli troops seized security cameras around Bethlehem, apparently as part of the search effort.

The car used in a ramming attack on a group of IDF soldiers that injured 12 of them in Jerusalem on February 6, 2020. (Israel Defense Forces)

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 and has sent three waves of reinforcements to the West Bank, including an additional battalion of combat troops on Thursday.

Also on Thursday, an Israeli soldier was lightly wounded in a shooting attack along a highway near the central West Bank settlement of Dolev. The gunman fled the scene, with Israeli troops in pursuit, the IDF said.

Earlier in the day, a Border Police officer was lightly wounded on Thursday 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.

Illustrative. Palestinians throw stones at an Israeli checkpoint during clashes with Israeli forces in the center of the flashpoint city of Hebron in the West Bank on February 4, 2020. (Photo by HAZEM BADER / AFP)

Overnight, 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.

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