Hamas welcomes attack on 'day of rage'

Two soldiers killed, 2 hurt in car-ramming terror attack in West Bank

Palestinian driver, a former security prisoner, hits 4 troops along road outside Mevo Dotan settlement, south of Jenin

A Palestinian driver hit four Israeli soldiers with his car Friday afternoon, killing an officer and a soldier and seriously injuring the others, outside the Mevo Dotan settlement in the northern West Bank. One of the injured soldiers suffered severe head trauma and was fighting for his life.

The military confirmed that the incident was a terror attack. It said the troops were hit while standing near a military guard post.

The driver was injured and taken to hospital, where he will be questioned, the army said. He was identified as Ala Qabha, 26, of the village of Barta’a in the northern West Bank.

Haaretz reported that Qabha was released from Israeli prison in April of last year after completing a 17-month sentence, though there were no immediate details on his crime. According to Hadashot news he was incarcerated for security-related activities.

Car-ramming terror suspect Ala Qabha (Courtesy)

Palestinian media reported that military forces searched the Qabha family’s home in Barta’a and questioned family members following the attack. Qabha’s brother was arrested, and the Israeli work permits of several family members were revoked.

Hamas welcomed the attack, saying it “proves our people’s readiness to continue the Jerusalem intifada.” The Palestinian Islamic Jihad terror group also said it “commends” the attack and “calls for further attacks against the Zionist occupation. Palestinian groups had called for Friday to be a “day of rage,” in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December.

Qabha’s family claimed the incident was an accident and not an attack, with one relative telling Haaretz that the young man was a painter, and had been on his way home from Jenin after buying supplies. “He’s not politically affiliated and doesn’t belong to any organization,” he said.

The scene of a suspected car-ramming terror attack in which two Israelis were killed and three wounded outside the northern West Bank settlement of Mevo Dotan, near Jenin, on March 16, 2018. (Magen David Adom)

The car-ramming occurred next to an army observation post along the 585 road near the entrance to Mevo Dotan, approximately 10 kilometers southwest of Jenin.

Video from the scene showed Israeli and Palestinian medics treating the wounded. The area was also filled with IDF personnel, who inspected the wrecked car, which was tangled in barbed wire.

One of the victims was pronounced dead at the scene. A second died a short time later, after attempts to save his life failed. One of the two was an officer, the IDF said later.

The two injured soldiers were taken by helicopter to Petah Tikva’s Beilinson Medical Center for treatment, according to the Magen David Adom ambulance service.

Israeli security forces and forensics are seen at the site where a Palestinian rammed a car into a group of Israeli soldiers near Mevo Dotan in the north of the West Bank on March 16, 2018 (AFP PHOTO / Jack GUEZ)

Health officials said one of the soldiers suffered severe head trauma and was fighting for his life.

The driver was lightly wounded and taken to Hillel Yaffe hospital in Hadera.

A second Palestinian man was treated by the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service. It was not immediately clear how he was involved.

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Palestinian groups in the West Bank and Gaza had called for Friday to be a “day of rage” to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump announced his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

The Palestinian National and Islamic Forces, a coalition consisting of various groups, called on Palestinians to confront IDF soldiers and settlers immediately after Friday prayers.

Illustrative: Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers near the border fence east of Gaza City on December 22, 2017. (AFP/Mohammed Abed)

It would be the latest in a series of weekly demonstrations, many of them violent, which have taken place since the December 6 announcement and subsequently announced plans for the US to move its embassy to the city. The protests shrunk in size after the first few weeks.

Jacob Magid and Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.

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