Slain soldier named as Ukrainian immigrant Maksym Molchanov

Soldier killed, six injured in truck-ramming terror attack near Modiin

Another serviceman seriously hurt; Palestinian driver shot dead after running over off-duty troops and others at Maccabim checkpoint, then fleeing to nearby Hashmonaim checkpoint

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent

The scene of a truck-ramming attack at the  Hashmonaim checkpoint near Modiin, August 31, 2023. Inset: Cpl. Maksym Molchanov, 20, who was killed in the attack. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg; Israel Defense Forces)
The scene of a truck-ramming attack at the Hashmonaim checkpoint near Modiin, August 31, 2023. Inset: Cpl. Maksym Molchanov, 20, who was killed in the attack. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg; Israel Defense Forces)

An off-duty Israeli soldier was killed and six other people, some of them soldiers, were wounded in a truck-ramming terror attack at a West Bank checkpoint near the central city of Modiin on Thursday morning, officials said.

According to the Israel Defense Forces’ initial investigation, the Palestinian truck driver arrived at the Maccabim checkpoint from the Israeli side, made a U-turn without entering the West Bank, and ran over a number of off-duty soldiers who were walking on the side of the road. The soldiers, of the 411th Battalion of the 282nd Regiment in the IDF’s Artillery Corps, were walking from a nearby army post to a bus station, to head to a team-building activity in Modiin.

The assailant then fled toward the Hashmonaim checkpoint, some seven kilometers (4.3 miles) away, where he was shot dead by security forces before managing to enter the West Bank.

The Magen David Adom ambulance service said its medics treated six people who were struck by the truck, including three men in their 20s: one in critical condition — who later died — another in serious condition, and the third in good condition. A Palestinian teenager was also lightly hurt, and an Israeli couple, aged 25, were lightly hurt after their car was hit by the attacker, MDA said.

They were taken to Shaare Zedek Hospital in Jerusalem, Tel Hashomer Hospital in Ramat Gan, and Asaf Harofeh Hospital in  Be’er Ya’akov, MDA said.

The IDF said four soldiers were among those hurt in the attack, including the young man who died, the seriously wounded victim, and two others who were lightly hurt, bringing the wounded toll to six.

Police at the scene of a truck-ramming attack near the Maccabim checkpoint, August 31, 2023. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

The slain soldier was later named as Cpl. Maksym Molchanov, 20, who moved to Israel from Ukraine in 2017 through the Jewish Agency’s Naale Elite Academy, a program for Jewish teenagers to complete their high school education in Israel.

Molchanov obtained Israeli citizenship in 2021, and was drafted to the IDF’s Artillery Corps in 2022. He lived in the coastal city of Herzliya.

Molchanov was a “lone soldier,” which the military defines as troops whose parents do not live in Israel or who are not supported financially by their parents.

He was posthumously promoted to the rank of sergeant.

This handout photo shows Cpl. Maksym Molchanov, who was killed in a truck-ramming attack near Modiin on August 31, 2023. (Courtesy)

The Palestinian driver, identified by defense officials as 41-year-old Daoud Abdel Razak Faiz, a father of five, from the nearby West Bank town of Deir ‘Ammar, had a permit to enter Israel for work. Faiz had no prior security offenses, according to the Shin Bet security agency.

According to the IDF’s initial investigation, the assailant entered Israel through a checkpoint on foot shortly before 6 a.m., and picked up a truck that did not belong to him in the central city of Gedera.

He drove to the Maccabim checkpoint with the truck, where he carried out the ramming. He then fled back down the Route 443 highway toward Modiin, and made a turn at the Shilat junction, in an apparent attempt to enter the West Bank via the Hashmonaim checkpoint.

The Defense Ministry said its security guards, who operate the Hashmonaim checkpoint, were given a description of the assailant’s vehicle by the IDF moments after the attack at the nearby checkpoint.

The guards stationed at the Hashmonaim checkpoint opened fire at the truck as the assailant attempted to carry out a second ramming attack there.

The attacker was taken to a hospital in serious condition, and later died of his wounds.

The scene of a truck-ramming attack at the Hashmonaim checkpoint near Modiin, August 31, 2023. (AP Photo/Ohad Zwigenberg)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was receiving updates on the attack, his office said in a brief statement.

Defense Minister Yoav Gallant held an assessment on the attack with top security officials later in the day.

“Sending my condolences to the family of the person killed in the ramming attack this morning, and I wish a full recovery to the injured. This is an attack with serious consequences. [My] full appreciation to the security forces for their determined action that led to the elimination of the terrorist in a short time,” Gallant said in a statement.

After the assessment, he said Israel was “under a terror offensive, against civilians mainly on the roads, and against IDF soldiers who are guarding them on the roads and in the settlements.”

“Unfortunately, there have been very heavy prices, both today and in the last few weeks,” he said. “We will reach every terrorist and we will settle the score.”

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi later held an assessment at the scene of the terror attack, meeting with the commander of the IDF’s West Bank division, Brig. Gen. Avi Blot, and head of the Efraim Regional Brigade, Col. Netanel Shamaka.

In this handout photo, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi (center) speaks with senior officers at the Maccabim checkpoint near Modiin, August 31, 2023. (Israel Defense Forces)

“We are increasing activities in [the West Bank], and we will also draw lessons immediately from the investigation of this attack,” Halevi was quoted as saying in a statement.

The attack came as tensions have remained high across the region, amid a string of Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have left 27 civilians and three soldiers dead, and several others seriously wounded since the beginning of the year.

According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 177 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during the same period — most of them during clashes with security forces or while carrying out attacks, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances, including by armed Israeli settlers.

According to fresh figures provided by the defense establishment on Thursday, security forces have carried out more than 2,000 arrest operations in the West Bank and foiled more than 470 terror attacks since the beginning of the year.

Police at the scene of a truck-ramming attack near the Maccabim checkpoint, August 31, 2023. (Jamal Awad/Flash90)

Late Wednesday, four soldiers were hurt after Palestinians set off a large explosive device in the West Bank city of Nablus.

Also on Wednesday night, a Palestinian teenager stabbed and moderately hurt an Israeli man at a light rail station in Jerusalem.

On Wednesday morning, a Palestinian man was shot and seriously wounded by Israeli troops after allegedly ramming them with his vehicle near the southern West Bank city of Hebron. One soldier was lightly hurt.

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