Air Force Academy Member Injured in South Israel Hit-and-run, Police Investigating Motive

The driver, from the Bedouin city of Rahat, drove on the sidewalk and continued driving for dozens of meters until coming to a stop

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The hit-and-run in Beer Sheva on Thursday morning.
The hit-and-run in Beer Sheva on Thursday morning.Credit: Security camera footage.

An 18-year-old air force student at the Israeli Air Force Technological College was moderately injured on Thursday morning when he was hit by a vehicle that drove on the sidewalk in the southern Israeli city of Be'er Sheva, police reported.

The driver went off the road and onto the sidewalk where he hit the pedestrian. The pedestrian was thrown over the car as a result of the impact. The vehicle continued driving for several dozens of meters before coming to a stop.

Soroka Medical Center reported on Thursday afternoon that the 18-year-old underwent successful surgery to treat broken bones and is now in recovery in a stable condition. The air force academy student who is a Be'er Sheva resident was wearing a uniform when he was hit by the car. Currently, various directions of investigation are being examined by the police.

Police reported that they arrested the driver, a resident of the Bedouin city of Rahat, and also evacuated him for medical treatment. A journalist who happened to be in the area said that he saw the driver coming out of the car twitching. Magen David Adom emergency services that arrived at the scene said he wasn't experiencing an active seizure.

A senior official in the Rahat Municipality told Haaretz that the suspect, a 39-year-old, suffers from epilepsy. He will be brought before a court in Ashkelon, on Friday, on the charge of attempted murder in a terrorist attack. His family claims that he suffers from mental issues and that the act shouldn't be considered to have nationalistic motives.

The suspect claims he was racially vilified by a Jewish man during an altercation on Monday. He posted footage of the incident on social media and issued a call to his Bedouin brethren to "look after yourselves ... we live in a racist country ... If you respect us, we will respect you. If you don't respect us – you will suffer. This is not a threat but between our honor and our lives, we will forgo our lives," the suspect wrote.

The hit-and-run comes on at a time of heightened tension after Wednesday's bombing terror attack in Jerusalem where one person was killed and 22 were injured at a bus stop. Police believe that the two charges were detonated remotely using a mobile phone.

In March, four people were killed and two women were seriously injured in a combined ramming and stabbing attack in Be'er Sheva. The terrorist was known to the security forces as an ISIS supporter. He was shot to death by a bus driver and a passerby.

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