Israeli Soldier, Police Officer Wounded, Palestinian Driver Shot in Suspected West Bank Attack

The suspect, sustaining moderate wounds, hit the two officers with his vehicle before getting out and running at them with a knife, according to the Israeli police

Members of Israeli security forces inspect the scene of an incident at Tapuah junction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, September 2, 2020.
Members of Israeli security forces inspect the scene of an incident at Tapuah junction in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, September 2, 2020.Credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/ REUTERS

An Israeli police officer and a soldier were lightly wounded on Wednesday in a suspected car-ramming attack in the West Bank, police and army said.

A Palestinian suspect, who was later identified as Mohammed Jabr al-Bitawi, a student for public policy and PR from the Nablus area, was shot at the scene at the Tapuah Junction, east of the settlement of Ariel, and south of the Palestinian city of Nablus. He is reportedly in moderate condition.

According to police and army statements, the driver hit the officers with his car. He then came out and tried to stab them with a knife before being shot.

The Tapuah Junction in the West Bank.

Al-Bitawi's relatives told Palestinian media he may have lost control of the vehicle. His father recently contracted the coronavirus and died two weeks ago.

Security footage from the scene showed a silver passenger car veering off slow-moving traffic and picking up speed as it drove straight into the soldiers, who were standing between two parked vehicles.

A medic said the two officers sustained “minor wounds” and were taken to a local hospital.

The police and the Israeli army said they were looking into the incident south of the Palestinian town of Za’atra, which they both said they regard as a suspected terror attack.

The Tapuah Junction is a busy intersection in a densely populated area of the West Bank, and is used by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers. It has regularly been the scene of attacks on Israeli soldiers stationed around the junction.

The West Bank has seen renewed tensions in recent months since the unveiling of the Trump adminstration's Mideast peace plan, the prospects of annexation of large swathes of the West Bank by Israel, and the recent normalization deal with the UAE.

On August 20, Israeli forces shot and killed a Palestinian teenager and injured two others in the West Bank village of Deir Abu Mashal, near Ramallah. The IDF said the youth belonged to a "terrorist cell" and had been spotted carrying flammable materials. Three days earlier, private security contractors manning the busy checkpoint of Qalandiya shot and wounded a 60-year-old man who failed to respond to their commands to stop, only to find the man had a speech and hearing deficiency.

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