"We were driving up Gush Etzion's hill, when someone threw a Molotov cocktail at us from a wooded area. I saw his face and clothes. He had side-locks and was wearing a large kippah. When the bottle was thrown there was a big boom, and the car caught fire. I opened the door and pulled the children out," recounted Jamila Riada (30), the Palestinian woman who was injured Thursday evening along with her husband and three children when a firebomb was hurled at the taxi they were travelling in.
The taxi driver was also hurt in the attack, which occurred as the cab was travelling between the West Bank settlements Bat Ayin and Gvaot.
Two of the Palestinians suffered severe injuries; three others sustained moderate wounds, and a young girl was lightly hurt in what a senior police official called a "Jewish nationalist attack."
Taxi after attack (Photo: Israel Police)
IDF sources said an initial investigation has indicated that Israelis were behind the attack. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has instructed the Shin Bet internal security service to make every effort to apprehend the assailants.
"We will do everything we can to bring the perpetrators to justice," he said.
Relatives at Hadassah hospital (Photo: Noam 'Dabul' Dvir)
IDF forces scoured the area and found a second, unlit Molotov cocktail bottle.
Brigadier General Hagai Mordechai, commander of the IDF's Judea and Samaria Division, has ordered army and Border Guard forces in the area boost their presence along main roads in the area and in known points of friction between Israelis and Palestinians. He said the incident could potentially undermine stability in the region.
The members of the Palestinian family who were injured in the attack were treated at Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital. Yusuf, a relative, said "this was an attempt to murder little children. Had it been the other way around, and the attack would have targeted Israelis, they would have sealed off the entire area and not allowed Palestinian vehicles to pass."
Yusuf, who drove behind the taxi, said "at first I thought it was an accident, but then the driver told me someone hurled a Molotov cocktail and fled the scene. They were hysterical. It was a miracle they got out of it alive. The road was empty. I immediately called the rescue services, and Magen David Adom ambulances arrived, as did IDF forces."
The taxi driver's brother also arrived at the hospital. "He suffered injuries to his hands and back and is in terrible pain," the brother said.
Another family member said, "This is not the first time Palestinians are attacked. We believe the (authorities) know exactly who was behind the attack."