Israeli car overturns after firebomb attack in West Bank

Security forces shoot alleged perpetrator, arrest second suspect in incident near Nablus

Illustrative photo of a young Palestinian hurling a firebomb in Hebron. (AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Illustrative photo of a young Palestinian hurling a firebomb in Hebron. (AP/Nasser Shiyoukhi)

Two Palestinian men hurled a firebomb at an Israeli car in the West Bank overnight Thursday-Friday, apparently missing their target but causing the female driver to lose control of the vehicle and overturn.

The driver escaped unharmed. Israeli security forces shot one of the alleged perpetrators, seriously wounding him. A second man was arrested, according to a report on Israeli news site Walla.

The injured suspect was taken by medics to the hospital, according to Palestinian medical officials.

The incident occurred near the Palestinian village of Beit Furik, close to Nablus, in the northern West Bank. The car was making its way toward the settlement of Elon Moreh, north of the village, when it was attacked.

Earlier Thursday, the Israeli government said it was looking to fast-track a number of measures to crack down on rock-throwers and allow live fire to be used against rioters, in response to ongoing unrest in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he was determined to see significant changes in policy to counter the uptick in attacks.

The measures would include increased use of rubber bullets and the use of live sniper fire by police in Jerusalem in some cases, as well as severely increased penalties against those convicted of throwing rocks or Molotov cocktails.

“We decided to change policy and wage war on stone-throwers, bottle-throwers, firecracker shooters and those who disrupt the peace — quite simply a change,” Netanyahu said, repeating comments he has made in the wake of several days of violent confrontations in the Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem and the death of an Israeli man in the capital after his car was stoned.

Netanyahu spoke with reporters as he joined Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz on a train journey to inaugurate a new Israel Railways line connecting the port city of Ashkelon with Beersheba in the Negev desert.

The changes, he said, will be applied on both sides of the Green Line, the boundary separating Israel from the West Bank, and “will be expressed first of all in a change of the rules of engagement. A Molotov cocktail or rock — these kill within the Green Line and over the Green Line.”

Israeli forces in East Jerusalem, which Israel effectively annexed in 1981, have until now operated under different guidelines than those applied to the West Bank. But the new directives would allow — for the first time — the use of live fire snipers in certain cases as well as increased use of rubber bullets, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

Other measures being pushed by Netanyahu include harsher penalties for convicted stone-throwers. The measures would see the minimum sentence for stone-throwers increased to 4-5 years in prison, while those caught throwing firebombs would serve no less than 10 years behind bars.

According to the Channel 2 report, parents of stone-throwing minors would be fined NIS 100,000 ($26,000).

Harsher punishments against offenders were necessary, Netanyahu asserted.

“We will enforce much more massive fines on youths below the legal age of imprisonment, on them and their families, including forfeiting of property if necessary in order to create a new deterrent. In Israel people will not throw bottles, they won’t shoot at trains and they won’t throw rocks as they please,” he said Thursday. “When I want something I get it, and I want to change this situation across the board.”

Even with Netanyahu pushing the legislation through the Knesset, it will likely take several months before such laws are enacted.

Netanyahu’s comments came a day after he declared “war” on those who throw stones and Molotov cocktails.

On Sunday evening, 64-year Jerusalemite Alexander Levlovitz was killed when his vehicle was struck by rocks as he made his way home from a Rosh Hashanah dinner. In the Old City of Jerusalem, police clashed with protesters on the Temple Mount for three straight days starting Sunday, although Wednesday saw the holy site return to relative normalcy as extra police were deployed.

Police stormed the compound Sunday morning after getting reports of rocks, firecrackers, Molotov cocktails and others weapons being stockpiled in al-Aqsa Mosque for use against Jewish visitors.

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