Arab Dies After Running Down Israeli Soldiers

By Patrick Goodenough | July 7, 2008 | 8:07 PM EDT

Jerusalem (CNS) - Israeli police shot dead an Arab man Tuesday morning after he twice drove his car into Israeli soldiers at a busy intersection west of Jerusalem, in what security officials said was a terrorist attack.

Israeli Police spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Sharon Grinker told the man drove his Fiat Punto at high speed into several soldiers hitchhiking at the Nachshon Junction, wounding two servicewomen, before speeding off.

Because the soldiers assumed it was a straightforward hit-and-run, no one had opened fire at the vehicle, he said. Israeli soldiers carry rifles at all times.

A police helicopter began to search for the vehicle, and soon observed it some distance away, heading back in the direction of the junction, he said.

When it arrived, the man drove again into the group of soldiers, hurting four of them. A policeman at the scene shot in the direction the car, which then ploughed into a large truck carrying concrete.

Fearing the driver may be a suicide bomber, police "shot the driver and killed him," Grinker said. A subsequent search found no bomb.

As investigations were underway, he was unable immediately to identify the driver, but said he was from the area of Palestinian Authority-controlled Bethlehem.

An eyewitness told Israel Radio the driver had apparently tried to run down the soldiers he had hurt in the first attempt, as he steered directly towards an area where the two women hurt earlier were being treated.

According to officials at the Kaplan Hospital in Rehovot, five soldiers were treated for wounds ranging from light to moderate. A sixth, a woman, sustained multiple fractures, described as serious.

Suicide bombs have been a weapon of choice for Islamist militants opposed to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, costing the lives of more than 160 Israelis since 1993.

The last suicide bombing occurred in November 1997, when two bombers blew themselves up and wounded 27 Israelis in downtown Jerusalem.

Patrick Goodenough
Patrick Goodenough
Spencer Journalism Fellow