Palestinian Gunman Kills Two Israelis in West Bank

(Bloomberg) -- A Palestinian man opened fire in an Israeli industrial park in the West Bank, killing two Israelis and wounding a third in what officials characterized as a terrorist attack.

The deadly assault was the second in three weeks in the West Bank and comes as Palestinians and Israelis increasingly warn of the risk of another round of war.

Israel Radio said the gunman, who remained at large, was employed at the industrial park and had opened fire on specific targets. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed confidence that the “despicable murderer” would be caught and brought to justice.

The attack took place near the West Bank settlement of Barkan, about 25 kilometers (15 miles) east of Tel Aviv. More than 120 businesses operate in the area, where thousands of Palestinian workers work side by side with thousands of Israelis, according to military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus.

Working Together

Barkan’s factories provide some of the best-paying jobs for Palestinians, but have been criticized by Palestinian leaders as a means of making Israel’s occupation of the West Bank more palatable. Goods made in Barkan are the target of an international boycott by Palestinians and their supporters because they are made at a settlement that most of the world considers illegal.

Conricus said the shooter used a homemade machine gun of a type that has become increasingly common in Palestinian areas. Israeli security forces have confiscated 300 guns in the West Bank since the start of the year, pointing to increased efforts to attack Israelis, he said.

The shooting comes at a time of increased tension between Israelis and Palestinians, dominated by seven months of confrontation in the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Nearly 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli army snipers, according to the Gaza Health Ministry’s tally, at protests that have grown increasingly violent. One Israeli soldier has been killed by Palestinian sniper fire, and thousands of acres of Israeli land have been torched by airborne kites, balloons and condoms outfitted with incendiary and explosive devices sent from Gaza.

The Israeli military said last week it was sending large-scale reinforcements to the Gaza border area, and commentators have discussed the possibility of imminent war. Egyptian and United Nations efforts to broker a long-term truce have faltered as deepening destitution in Gaza, which is subject to a decade-old Egyptian and Israeli blockade and economic sanctions by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, threatens to lead to a conflagration.

U.S. efforts to present a peace plan also have stumbled, with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cutting off contacts with Washington last December after it recognized contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

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