Palestinian Hit-And-Run Described As Terrorist Attack

By Julie Stahl | July 7, 2008 | 8:09 PM EDT

Jerusalem ( - Wednesday's terrorist attack at a busy intersection near Tel Aviv is proof that Palestinians see no difference between Jews living in settlements in disputed territories and those living in "the country's very heart," said Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon.

Eight Israelis were killed and at least 10 wounded, when a Palestinian bus driver plowed into them as they waited at an army hitchhiking point to catch rides to their military bases. Israeli authorities are calling it a terrorist attack.

The attack, which happened during rush hour at a busy intersection near Holon south of Tel Aviv, is the worst single attack in terms of Israeli casualties since the violent Palestinian revolt and accompanying terror campaign began five months ago.

Tel Aviv police said seven of those killed were soldiers and one was a civilian. Police said of the ten injured people, some had serious injuries. According to a hospital spokeswoman, three young female soldiers are fighting for their lives.

The driver of the bus sped off after driving into the pedestrians. Police chased him and shot him, causing the bus to crash into a truck. The bus driver is now in police custody, in a hospital where he's being treated for his injuries.

According to initial reports, the Palestinian driver, who had worked for the Israeli bus company Egged for five years, had security clearance to be in Israel. In his late 30s and the father of five, he did not fit the profile of those who usually carry out terrorist attacks.

The Palestinian bus driver has just brought Palestinian workers from the Gaza Strip to jobs in Israel, and it was after dropping off the workers that he rammed into the crowd.

Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon, who won elections last week pledging to stop the violence, said that returning security to Israeli citizens would be his government's "first and most important goal."

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and it is unclear if the bus driver had been sent by an organization or acted alone. Palestinian Authority officials responded by saying the fault lay with outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Barak, because violence bred violence.

The incident occurred one day after Israel killed a Palestinian police officer who the army blamed for a number of terrorist attacks.