Palestinian driver suspected of running over soldiers turns himself in


JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinian man suspected of running over three Israeli soldiers with a van turned himself in.

Hamam Mesalmeh, of the West Bank village of Beit Awa, near Hebron, came to the West Bank’s Etzion District Coordinating Office, which coordinates activities between Israeli and Palestinian security forces, at about noon Thursday. Several members of his family, including his father, had been arrested earlier in the day in connection with the attack the previous night during a search of Mesalmeh’s home.

Originally suspected to be a terrorist attack, the incident may have been a hit-and-run accident with no terrorist motives, Israeli media reported Thursday, quoting unnamed security sources.

Mesalmeh reportedly had been identified through his van’s registration. Israeli soldiers found the van in the West Bank village of Al Aroub, near the Gush Etzion junction where the incident had taken place.

Israel Police and the military had set up roadblocks and searched the area following the incident in which a white van drove through a West Bank traffic junction in Gush Etzion, injuring three soldiers, one seriously. The driver escaped in his vehicle heading south, according to reports.

Earlier on Wednesday, a Palestinian driving a car plowed into a light rail stop in Jerusalem, killing an Israel Border Police officer and injuring 13.

On Thursday, thousands of mourners attended the funeral for the officer, Jidan Assad, 38, from the Druze village of Beit Jaan. He leaves behind his wife, who is pregnant, and a 3-year-old son.

On Oct. 22, a Palestinian driver plowed into a crowd of people at a light rail station on Ammunition Hill in northern Jerusalem, killing a 3-month-old girl who was a dual American-Israeli citizen and a tourist from Ecuador.

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