By Erin Viner
A 34-year-old Israeli security agent was critically wounded when a Palestinian slammed his vehicle into a guard post at high speed. The incident occurred about 1:20 AM yesterday morning at the Te’enim Checkpoint near the West Bank city of Tulkarem.
Other guards opened fire at the suspected terrorist, who was shot and later died at an area hospital. Palestinian media identified the assailant as Muhammad Nidal Younis, who the Israeli Defense Ministry said was a 16-year-old resident of Nablus.
The Israeli guard, who sustained head and check injuries, was evacuated to the Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv in serious but stable condition. His status has been upgraded to moderate and he is expected to survive, said the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
“This is a serious incident,” said Defense Ministry Director General Amir Eshel after visiting the scene, while praising the checkpoint guards for having “acted quickly, just as we train them — striving for contact, hitting the terrorist and ending the incident within seconds.”
“We are investigating the circumstances of the incident and will consider further steps to improve security for security guards,” he added.
The car-ramming attack came just hours after a West Bank resident stabbed an Israeli man and attempted to slash security forces with a knife outside the Damascus Gate entrance into Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday.
The Israeli victim was evacuated to hospital in moderate condition with wounds to his upper body, possibly including his neck.
The terrorist, identified as 23-year-old Mohammed Shawkat Salameh of Salfit was shot by security forces and died at the scene. Local Palestinians rioted against Israeli forces, who responded with stun grenades and other riot control measures.
Israeli Border Police Chief Amir Cohen insisted the officers had acted correctly and Jerusalem District Police Chief, Doron Turgeman hailed the officers’ “swift” actions for preventing further loss of life.
Voicing support for the security forces, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid vowed that “we will not let terrorists run wild in Jerusalem or in any other part of the country,” while Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the officers carried out the “obvious” response.
Controversy arose over the circulation of unverified video on social media – of only the last few seconds of the Jerusalem attack – purporting to Israeli forces continuing to shoot after the knife-wielding assailant had fallen to the pavement.
Palestinian officials condemned the assailant’s death and said it amounted to an execution, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asserting in a statement that “the killing of the young man after he had been wounded is a documented war crime.” Knesset Members of the predominantly Arab Joint List political faction condemned the shooting, with Ofer Cassif labeling it as a “summary execution” and Aida Touma-Sliman posting on Twitter that, “Executing a man who no longer constitutes a threat is a horrible crime. This is the reality created by the occupation.”
The Islamist Hamas terrorist rulers of the Gaza Strip hailed the attack as “heroic,” but did not claim responsibility.
Israeli police responded to the backlash by releasing a 50-second video of the entire incident, in which the terrorist is seen crossing a street prior to suddenly turning around to repeatedly stab an ultra-Orthodox Jewish man walking behind him. He then tried to stab a border police officer before being shot several times by his intended victim and another officer before falling down.
After being briefed by Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev and Israel Police Inspector General Yaakov Shabtai on the findings of the preliminary investigation Saturday evening, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett stated, “The Border Police officers took the quick and determined action expected of Israel Police officers against a terrorist who tried to murder an Israeli civilian.”
“I would like to extend to them full backing – this is how our officers are expected to act and this is how they acted,” he said, underscoring, “We cannot allow our capital city to become a focal point of terrorism.”
Doubling down at the start of his weekly cabinet meeting yesterday morning, Prime Minister Bennett praise the speed with which the Israeli Police countered the “edited Palestinian video” that misrepresented actual events, by releasing the “full video – the truth” that “turned the previous perception.”
According to a statement TV7 obtained from the Prime Minister’s Media Advisor, Bennett said, “I suggest that nobody rush to pass judgment on the conduct of fighters in complicated situations on the ground in the face of terrorism. It is always better to wait a moment.”
“In any case, the full video leaves no room for doubt – the officers acted in an exemplary manner, exactly as is required of fighters in such an operational situation. They neutralized the stabber as necessary,” said the Israeli leader, emphasizing that, “They deserve the appreciation of us all for those for preventing murder and for acting with operational resourcefulness in mere fragments of seconds.”
Last month in Jerusalem’s Old City, 26-year-old Eliyahu Kay, who immigrated from South Africa, was murdered by a Palestinian gunman firing an automatic weapon and 2 Border Police troops were stabbed by a Hamas-linked terrorist. In September, 2 Israelis were moderately hurt in terror stabbing in Jerusalem and there was an attempted knifing of 2 soldiers in the West Bank on the same day. The attackers were shot dead by Israeli security forces in all 4 attacks.
Palestinian terrorism against Israelis has occurred sporadically since 2015, the year after peace process with Israel collapsed.