Israeli soldiers hit by car could have been accident

2014-11-06 17:29
(Dan Balilty, AP)

(Dan Balilty, AP)

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Tel Aviv - A Palestinian who ran over three Israeli soldiers at a West Bank junction outside Jerusalem turned himself in on Thursday. Reports indicated the incident may have been an accident.

While officials first said the traffic incident was likely the latest vehicular attack by Palestinians against Israelis as tensions continue to mount in Jerusalem, Israeli media on Thursday reported that police now believe it was not an attack, but a case of hit and run.

Officials contacted by dpa said they could not immediately confirm the reports in several local media outlets, but stressed that the man did hand himself over to the security forces.

Footage from a surveillance camera showed the man driving his van at full speed over the three soldiers waiting at the junction late on Wednesday, seriously injuring one and moderately wounding the two others.

It came hours after another Palestinian, from East Jerusalem, killed a Druze border policeman and injured 13 passersby when he rammed his car into Israelis on the main road between East and West Jerusalem.

Hamas claimed responsibility for that attack, describing the driver as a "hero" who "sacrificed his life" to defend Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque, the focus of renewed tensions in the city.

Riots erupt

Riots spread in Jerusalem after Israeli police allegedly stepped inside the mosque for the first time since 1967, when Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan.

Police have vehemently denied the charge, saying they only closed the gate to the mosque when they were pelted with stones and fireworks by masked youths inside the mosque.

The Waqf, the Muslim religious trust in charge of the mosque, produced a photograph of what it said was a footprint of a police boot on the mosque carpet, but not of any policeman actually inside, despite the clash having been much documented.

Jordan recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv "for consultations" about the alleged police intrusion into the mosque and promised to pursue the matter at the United Nations.

Turkey's leadership also slammed Israel, with Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu pledging to raise the issue at international forums.

"Jerusalem is supposed to be a city of peace and, instead, it has been transformed into a city of conflict, cruelty and barbaric actions because of Israel's demeanour. I ask all of humanity to stand up for Aqsa," Davutoglu said.

Meanwhile, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a vocal critic of Israel, has spoken by telephone with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader in exile Khaled Mashaal.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a bid to calm tempers and in an reassurance to Jordan, on Thursday again issued a public statement, pledging he would not change the status quo preserved for decades at the sensitive holy site.

"In security consultations last night, the prime minister clarified that there won't be any change to the status quo on the Temple Mount, and that whoever expresses another position is expressing his or her personal opinion and not that of the government of Israel," read the statement from Netanyahu's office.

The site, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary, is sacred to both religions.

Israeli police arrested 16 people in and near East Jerusalem in clashes that erupted about the site, police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said on Thursday.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel

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