Gaza Arab Confesses to Hit-and-run That Killed Hitchhiking IDF Soldier

A 43-year-old father of 11 from the Gaza Strip is reported to have confessed to police that he was the hit-and-run driver who fatally injured a young Israel Defense Force soldier waiting to hitch a ride on a highway near Ashkelon on Friday.

Jamal Abdul Kader al-Baz was nabbed Saturday night about 7 miles north of Jericho in the West Bank, where he was trying to cross the border into Jordan.

Under questioning, he said he accidentally struck the soldier after losing control of his car. But later, he reportedly admitted he swerved off the road intentionally to prove to intifada activists that he was not a collaborator.

The suspect reportedly said his brother was murdered a month ago on suspicion of collaborating with the Israeli authorities.

The incident occurred Friday afternoon near Nitzanim, north of Ashkelon, where a group of IDF recruits was waiting to hitch rides.

A car approaching at high speed struck Nadav Deri, 18, who had enlisted only four days earlier. He died of his injuries.

Deri was the third IDF soldier in seven months to be killed by a car driven by a Gaza Strip resident. Security sources said restrictions on those leaving the territory to find work in Israel, relaxed recently, will be tightened again.

The fatal car struck another vehicle while escaping, police said. It was eventually forced to stop by a flat tire and was found abandoned near a Rehovot hospital late Friday night.

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