Twelve Israeli soldiers wounded in Jerusalem car-ramming

The golden shrine of the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem's Old city (AP)

The National  /  February 6, 2020

A military spokeswoman said the soldiers were touring the city before their swearing-in ceremony.

A car ran down and injured 12 Israeli soldiers and two other people in Jerusalem early on Thursday, Israeli military and medical officials said.

Police said the driver, who they said was Palestinian, fled the scene on David Remez Street, which is close to the Arab neighbourhoods of East Jerusalem.

A theatre and several late-night restaurants and bars are also located along the street.

A military spokeswoman said the soldiers were touring the city before their swearing-in ceremony.

“Police are searching for the vehicle,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfled said.

Among the 14 victims, one was left in critical condition, another had “moderate” injuries, while 12 others were wounded lightly, Israel’s Magen David emergency medical service said on Twitter.

There was no immediate indication as to the motivation of the possible attack, but Palestinians have carried out sporadic car-rammings on Israeli targets.

The incident comes amid heightened tension between Israel and the Palestinians following the release of US President Donald Trump’s controversial Middle East peace plan.

The Palestinian Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, said the car ramming was part of “resistance” operations, including a series of demonstrations in the occupied West Bank, but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

“The resistance acts throughout the West Bank – the clashes between our people from the far south of the West Bank to the north, and the resistance operation in the heart of occupied Jerusalem – are a practical response by our people to Trump’s announcement of the liquidation deal,” Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said.

Long-simmering Palestinian anger has been stoked anew by Mr Trump’s plan, which he unveiled in Washington on January 28 alongside Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

No Palestinian representatives were present or consulted in the plan that recognises Jewish settlements in the West Bank deemed illegal under international law as well as Israel’s claim to the entire city of Jerusalem as its capital.

There have been protests across the occupied West Bank since the plan was released.

Palestinian hospital officials said a 19-year-old was killed in clashes in the West Bank city of Jenin on Thursday, and six others were wounded in the confrontation. A 17-year-old Palestinian protester was shot dead by Israeli troops in the city of Hebron on Wednesday.

Those terms have been rejected by all Palestinian leaders, including Hamas which controls Gaza.

The plan is set to be discussed on Thursday at the United Nations Security Council and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will make an address.