A teenager was moderately hurt in a car-ramming attack in the southern city of Beersheba on Thursday morning, police and medics said. The driver was arrested.
The alleged attacker drove his vehicle on the sidewalk near the Israeli Air Force Technological College, slamming into an 18-year-old man, according to surveillance camera footage and eyewitnesses/
Footage showed the driver initially fleeing the scene.
The teen, a student at the college, was taken to Soroka hospital in the city in moderate condition, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said.
The driver, a 39-year-old resident of the Bedouin-majority city of Rahat, was arrested some 100 meters away, according to law enforcement officials.
The driver told reporters as he was leaving the hospital on his way to be questioned by police that he had lost control of the car while driving and accidentally hit the teenager.
The suspect was later taken to be questioned by the Shin Bet security agency.
Police said he was suspected of “a terrorist act of attempted murder,” and would be brought for a court remand hearing on Friday morning.
Police initially said that “all possible investigative avenues are being examined.”
The commander of the police’s Negev District, Deputy Commissioner Nachshon Nagler, said an initial investigation found the ramming was intentional, but added that it was still being probed whether the motive was nationalistic, i.e., terror-related, or criminal.
“At this point, we aren’t ruling out any explanation,” he said to reporters at the scene, shortly after the incident.
But on Thursday evening, police and the Shin Bet said the incident was a terror attack.
While technically not enlisted in the military, students at the IAF college wear uniforms.
The driver had in recent days published posts on the TikTok video-sharing site claiming he had been threatened by a Jewish Israeli man brandishing a gun in Beersheba.
“Nobody can threaten the Bedouins here in Beersheba or in the south. If you respect us we will respect you, and if not you will suffer. This is not a threat, but for our dignity, we are willing to give up our lives,” the suspect said in a rant.
In another clip, as the suspect walked out of a police station apparently after filing a complaint against the man who allegedly threatened him, he called on Bedouins to prepare to defend themselves.
“I call on your Bedouins, you need to be prepared at any moment for any threat. Each and every one should protect themselves in this racist country,” he said.
The Haaretz daily cited people close to the suspect and his family as describing him as unstable and suffering from epilepsy.
The suspected attack came a day after two bombs were detonated at two bus stops near entrances to Jerusalem, killing a teenager and wounding more than 20 others.