Two Israelis Killed in Second West Bank Shooting This Week

(Bloomberg) -- Two Israeli soldiers were killed in a shooting Thursday in the West Bank, not far from the site of a deadly drive-by attack earlier this week.

Two other people were wounded, including one critically, military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus said in a call with reporters. The shooting took place just hours after Israeli soldiers killed two Palestinians suspected in previous deadly attacks.

Violence in the West Bank is rising at a volatile time along other fronts. Israel is trying to maintain an uneasy truce with Gaza Strip militants following a recent flare up on the border. Soldiers along the northern border with Lebanon are locating and disabling infiltration tunnels dug by the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, an operation that carries the risk of escalating into a full-fledged war.

Bus Stop

In the West Bank on Thursday, a vehicle stopped at a bus stop and at least one shooter got out and opened fire on civilians and soldiers standing there, Conricus said. Troops were searching for the attacker, who apparently fled to Ramallah, and the army has blocked the city’s exits and entrances, he said.

The military will reinforce its presence in the area, Conricus said. The shooting may have been a copycat attack or related to upcoming dates on the Palestinian calendar, such as the anniversary of Hamas’s founding, he said.

On Sunday, a pregnant woman and several other Israelis were seriously wounded in a shooting not far from that junction. The woman’s baby was delivered prematurely but died Wednesday.

In overnight raids, Israeli security services located and killed the suspected Palestinian assailant in that attack and another Palestinian man they said shot dead two Israelis in a West Bank factory in October. Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, said the men belonged to its ranks.

Settlement Homes

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s office said “the absence of any horizon for peace led to this cycle of violence.”

“We reject and condemn such a cycle, for which both sides are paying the price,” it said in a statement.

Abbas’s Fatah party on Thursday praised the gunmen behind the recent attacks and called on Palestinians to confront Israeli soldiers across the West Bank on Friday. Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh welcomed what he called the “new and bloody page” being opened in the West Bank.

Peace talks broke down in 2014 and the Trump administration’s efforts to restart them foundered after it announced last year that the U.S. Embassy would be relocated to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. The Palestinians claim east Jerusalem for their hoped-for state, and cut off contacts with the U.S. over the embassy move.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said that in response to the wave of attacks, Israel would legalize thousands of West Bank homes built without authorization. He also will seek the attorney general’s permission to build 82 new homes in the settlement of Ofra, Netanyahu’s office said.

“They intend to uproot us from our land. They won’t succeed,” Netanyahu said in a statement.

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