TEL AVIV (Reuters) - A truck driver drove into cars and pedestrians in Tel Aviv on Sunday, an annual Palestinian protest day, killing a man and injuring 17 people, and police said they were investigating whether it was a political attack.
Police said they had arrested the driver, identified as a 22-year-old resident of the Arab village of Kafr Qassem in central Israel.
Israeli security forces had been on alert for violence on Sunday, the day Palestinians mark the “Nakba,” or catastrophe, of Israel’s founding in a 1948 war, when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were forced to leave their homes.
In the Gaza Strip, Israeli gunfire wounded four Palestinians in a crowd of demonstrators who approached Israel’s fenced border with the Hamas Islamist-run enclave, medical workers said. There was no immediate comment from the Israeli military.
Witnesses in Tel Aviv said the truck driver went on a rampage, slamming into cars, a bus and pedestrians along a two-km (1-mile) stretch of road, at the start of the Israeli work week in Tel Aviv, Israel’s commercial hub.
“We heard terrible slamming behind us in the car — boom, and another boom and another boom — until it reached us, and we simply flew up in the air,” a witness, identified only as Yossi, said on Army Radio.
“He went on and crashed into a bus. He got out and began to go crazy, throwing things at people. There was this poor innocent girl — he struck her on the head. She just fell down, and now people are treating her. What can I tell you? A terrorist attack.”
Israeli emergency services said a man was pronounced dead at the scene and 17 people were injured.
In a separate Nakba protest in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian youths threw rocks at Israeli soldiers, who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them, near the Israeli military’s Qalandia checkpoint outside the city of Ramallah.
On Saturday, a Palestinian teenager who was shot during protests in Jerusalem on Friday died of his injuries. Police said it was unclear who had shot him and they were investigating.
The shooting took place in the flashpoint neighborhood of Silwan, where violence broke out between Palestinian stone throwers and Israeli police and Jewish settlers.
Additional reporting by Dan Williams in Jerusalem, Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, Writing by Jeffrey Heller