JERUSALEM (AP) — The Israeli military said a Palestinian vehicle targeted Israeli soldiers on a highway in the West Bank before dawn on Monday, prompting troops to open fire, killing two Palestinians inside.
An Israeli officer and border policeman were injured when the Palestinian car rammed into a group of Israeli troops, running them over on a road outside a village near the city of Ramallah, the military said.
The officer was seriously injured and hospitalized. A third Palestinian inside the car was wounded and taken into custody, it said.
Later Monday, another military statement said an initial inquiry “indicates that the incident was a terror attack,” adding that the Palestinian suspects had also thrown firebombs at a nearby highway earlier in the night.
A Palestinian official disputed that account. Khaldoun al-Deek, the mayor of the Palestinian village of Nima near where the incident occurred, told The Associated Press that it took place at a sharp curve in the road, leading him to “believe it was a road accident, not a ramming attack.”
The Palestinian health ministry identified the two killed Palestinians as Amir Daraj and Yusuf Anqawi, both 20 years old and residents of villages near Ramallah.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, addressing journalists in the Gaza Strip on Monday, praised the two slain Palestinians, referring to them as “heroes.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had ordered the military to expedite the demolition of the suspected Palestinian attackers’ homes. Israel demolishes Palestinian attackers’ homes as a policy aimed at deterring future attacks.
“We are determined to continue our vigorous struggle against the murderers and against terrorism,” Netanyahu said during a meeting with visiting Samoan Prime Minister Tuilaepa Malielegaoi.
Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks, and Israeli forces have killed more than 260 Palestinians in that same period.
Israel has described most of the Palestinians killed as attackers, but occasional clashes between protesters and soldiers have also turned deadly.
Associated Press writers Fares Akram in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, and Mohammad Daraghmeh in Ramallah, West Bank, contributed to this report.
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