| 23 April 2024, Tuesday |

Palestinian gunmen kill four Israelis in West Bank

Palestinian gunmen killed four Israelis close to a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank. The violent Hamas group said the murder was retaliation for an Israeli military operation on the sensitive Jenin area.

According to emergency authorities, the shooting occurred at a gas station and a roadside eatery near the Eli village. At least one youngster was among the fatalities.

The Israeli military said it was boosting forces in the West Bank after the attack.

The Islamist Hamas group said the two gunmen were members of its armed wing. One was shot dead by a civilian at the scene and the second by Israeli security forces who tracked him down after he fled the area, authorities said.

“When I got to the gas station I saw the terrorist, I saw him going to a car in which a man was sitting. He shot a round at him,” said Morel Nicker, 28, who is part of Eli’s security team, from his hospital bed. “I shot him, he shot me. I didn’t stop shooting until he stopped moving.”

The West Bank has seen a sharp increase in violence over the past 15 months with stepped-up Israeli army raids amid a spate of Palestinian street attacks and Israeli settler aggression.

Tuesday’s shooting took place a day after an hours-long gunbattle between Palestinian fighters and Israeli troops backed by helicopter gunships in nearby Jenin, a stronghold of armed Palestinian groups.

Six Palestinians were killed and more than 90 wounded and seven Israeli personnel were also wounded during one of the most intense clashes in the West Bank in months.

“All options are open. We will continue to fight terrorism with all our might and we will defeat it,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement before convening security chiefs.

Members of his nationalist-religious government called for tough moves. “It’s time for actions,” said Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich. Police minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called for a full-scale military operation in the West Bank and urged Jewish settlers in the area to carry a weapon.

Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip and has a network of fighters across the West Bank, described the attack as a “heroic” response to Monday’s Israeli operation in Jenin and said it may be followed by more actions against Israelis “that will shatter their fragile state and turn the lives of their soldiers and settlers into a nightmare”.

Residents and a local official in the nearby Palestinian village of Huwara said that Israeli settlers set fire to a car and torched fields in the area, in an apparent retribution for the attack.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides condemned the Eli attack and said he was “deeply concerned about the civilian deaths and injuries that have occurred in the West Bank these past 48 hours, including that of minors.”

U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, aimed at establishing a state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, collapsed in 2014 and show no sign of revival.

Israel’s government is set on expanding settlements in the West Bank and includes members who rule out a Palestinian state. Hamas advocates Israel’s destruction.

  • Reuters