A Palestinian man has confessed to ramming his vehicle into a bus stop in the West Bank, in an apparent terror attack Thursday afternoon that left four young Israelis injured.
The attack occurred outside the Alon Shvut settlement in the Etzion settlement bloc south of Jerusalem, at the site of a similar fatal attack in November.
The suspect was named by the Shin Bet security service as Muhammed Arfaaya, a 22-year-old resident of Hebron.
The deputy head of the Etzion settlement bloc council Moshe Savil told the Ynet news site that the driver came from the direction of nearby Kfar Etzion. “He crossed the highway and with great force struck a group of students who were waiting for the bus,” he said.
Arfaaya allegedly fled the scene in a black Subaru carrying Israeli license plates that he used to ram into the pedestrians, but was caught soon after by the IDF, and handed to the Shin Bet for questioning.
The Shin Bet said that Arfaaya was released from Israeli prison last year, after he served a sentence for carrying a weapon and throwing stones.
According to the Shin Bet, Arfaaya claimed nationalistic motives drove him to hurt the Israelis. The agency was also looking into whether the suspect was incited by calls on social networks to carry out attacks against Israelis.
Twenty-five-year-old Benjamin Frenkel was moderately injured in the attack, and three others, aged between 16 and 19, were lightly hurt. All four were evacuated to hospitals in nearby Jerusalem.
“I was standing at the station along with another person, who had noticed the car heading towards us. He grabbed me and shouted at me to move,” Frenkel told Ynet.
“We moved, but the vehicle managed to hit us. I was thrown a meter away, and the other person landed even farther.”
Savil added in a statement made at the scene of the attack: “I call on the army and security forces to return security to the settlement bloc, to increase security, to restrict the entrance of Palestinians to areas with large groups of people like this.”
“This is a hard day for the Etzion settlement bloc. This junction has experienced many tough incidents,” Savil said, referring to an attack that occurred near the junction where a Palestinian driver ran into a bus stop, running over Israeli Dalia Lemkus, 26, and then stabbing her to death.
It is also less than a kilometer away from where the three teenagers, Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, were abducted by Hamas-linked terrorists before their murder in June.
The West Bank and Jerusalem have seen a spate of vehicular terror attacks since the fall.
On Monday, a man sustained light injuries after he was stabbed at the Mishor Adumim junction. The assailant fled the scene and is at large.