JERUSALEM (AP) — A Palestinian slammed his car into an Israeli army officer near a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank Wednesday, seriously injuring him, the Israeli military said. The officer opened fire on the man, the military said, and according to the Palestinians, he died soon after.
The Palestinians identified the suspected attacker as Habas Abdel Hafeez Yousef Rayan, 54.
The army said in a statement that the attacker arrived in a vehicle at the Maccabim checkpoint on a busy commuting route and struck an officer. The attacker left the vehicle and tried to attack the officer with an axe, the statement said. The officer fired at the man. The officer was injured, according to the army, and transferred to a hospital. Rush-hour traffic was backed up for miles as official cars lined the road, part of a link between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
The Palestinians and rights groups accuse Israeli forces of using excessive force in their dealings with the Palestinians, without being held accountable. The military says it contends with complex, life-threatening scenarios.
It was the latest in a spate of violence between Israel and the Palestinians and came as results were still being counted in the country’s fifth national election in four years. Results were not final. But turnout was the highest it’s been in decades and four fifths of the ballots counted so far show former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared headed toward victory Wednesday as Israelis gave him and his far-right allies what looks like a stable majority in the parliament.
More than 125 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli-Palestinian fighting in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year. The fighting has surged since a series of Palestinian attacks killed 19 people in Israel in the spring, with several more killed in a recent spasm of violence. The Israeli army says most of the Palestinians killed have been militants. But stone-throwing youths protesting Israeli raids and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed. The nightly military raids in the West Bank have contributed to the tension.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war and has built more than 130 settlements there, many of which resemble small towns, with apartment blocks, shopping malls and industrial zones. The Palestinians want the West Bank to form the main part of their future state. Most countries view the settlements as a violation of international law.