Gunfire reportedly from the Palestinian town of Silwad struck a crowded Israeli bus on its way to the city of Ariel on Saturday night, Israeli police said.
The shooting occurred east of Tel Aviv, on Route 60, the main north-south highway that connects the Judea and Samaria regions. The bus was found with eight bullet holes, however, no one was physically injured in the attack.
The bus driver, who was not named, said he “stepped on it” and was able to move the bus and passengers to safety.
“It’s a dark area and there are no soldiers stationed there, so my goal was to get as far away as possible,” he said.
Passengers called the police and disembarked at the Shiloh Junction where soldiers were stationed, said Yuval Hadad, one of the passengers, who described the attack to Ynet news.
“We heard a few loud ‘booms.’ At first, I thought something fell on the bus. But when I saw other passengers taking cover, I assumed it was rock throwing,” Hadad said.
The driver told Ynet that he only saw the “booms” were from bullet holes once he had disembarked at the Shiloh Junction.
“I’ve never seen anything like this before,” he said. “I haven’t slept all night. I’m still shaking.” He won praise for his quick response.
Israeli security forces immediately launched a manhunt for the assailant, or assailants, temporarily closing off the entrance to Silwad, Palestinian press reported. Medics were also called but ultimately did not need to treat anyone.
Binyamin Regional Council Chairman Yisrael Gantz, while noting that “a great miracle [had] happened,” claimed that the shooting occurred because Israeli authorities are not doing enough to deter such attacks.
“We demand immediate, decisive, and deep actions to eradicate terrorism and restore deterrence on the ground,” Gantz said.
The Israeli Bus Drivers Union called for an end to “violence and terror” against Israeli buses.
“We must not neglect the lives of the drivers and passengers,” the union said in a statement.
Tamar Ohana of the “Koach LaOvdim” Democratic Workers’ Organization praised the driver’s actions, saying he prevented a disaster.
“We support the drivers who are out there on the front lines every day, dealing with stone-throwing terrorism on the one hand and passenger violence on the other. This is a daily reminder of the necessity of acknowledging drivers as public servants and that is what we’ll keep fighting for,” Ohana said.
The attack happen against a backdrop of escalating tensions in the West Bank, as the Israel Defense Forces have been carrying out raids and arrests in response to a wave of deadly terror attacks that resulted in the deaths of 19 people earlier this year.
On the same day of the bus shooting this weekend, three women from the Palestinian town of Nablus (called Shechem in Hebrew) were arrested near a West Bank checkpoint when they were caught with a homebuilt submachine gun in their car.
The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.