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Palestinian ramming attack kills 2 Israeli soldiers in West Bank: military

JENIN, West Bank (Reuters) - A Palestinian motorist rammed and killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded two others in the occupied West Bank on Friday, the Israeli military said.

An Israeli soldier is taken off a helicopter into the emergency room in a hospital in Petah Tikva, March 16, 2018. REUTERS/Nir Keidar

The army said the driver was a “terrorist” who ran over soldiers who were securing routes near the Jewish settlement of Mevo Dotan, west of the Palestinian town of Jenin.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said on Twitter that an “officer and soldier were killed and two soldiers were injured in a car-ramming attack,” and that the attack was “deliberate”.

The motorist was detained, treated in an Israeli hospital for injuries and was being questioned, the military said.

Israel’s Shin Bet security agency identified him as Alaa Rateb Aa-Latif Kabha from the village of Barta, near Jenin, adding: “The working assumption is that this was a terrorist attack.”

It said that Kabha had previously been jailed for security offences and had been released in April 2017. Palestinian media reports said he was 26.

Israeli military authorities in the West Bank swiftly announced the “immediate and broad suspension” of all permits for the family of the Palestinian driver. A military spokesman said these included 71 employment permits and 26 trade permits.

Some of the injured soldiers were taken by helicopter to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva, and were wheeled into ambulances on stretchers.

Israel’s Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said on Twitter: “We will act to secure the death penalty for the terrorist, for the demolition of his home and for the punishment of anyone who collaborated.”

The Islamist militant faction Hamas welcomed the ramming attack but did not claim responsibility for it.

Hazem Qassem, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said that it took place 100 days after U.S. President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel on Dec. 6, a move which angered Palestinians and reversed years of U.S. policy.

Another Hamas official, Fawzi Barhoum, lauded the “hero of the Jenin attack,” and said it showed that Palestinians were willing to “continue the path of resistance, using all its tools to protect themselves against the occupation.”

Car-ramming attacks have been used by Palestinians against Israelis in violence that has surged in 2015 but has been on a lower ebb in recent months.

Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg