Monday, 27 March, 2023

2 Israelis killed in ‘Palestinian terror attack’

HUWARA: Two Israelis were killed Sunday in a "Palestinian terror attack", an Israeli government statement said after a fatal shooting in the occupied West Bank, reports AFP.

The incident is the latest in escalating violence in the West Bank, which saw the most Palestinians killed last year since at least 2005, and has continued since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returned to power in December.

A joint statement from Netanyahu and his national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, confirmed "two Israeli civilians were killed in a Palestinian terror attack".

The shooting targeted a car on the main thoroughfare through Huwara, a town near Nablus in the northern West Bank.

A spokesperson for the Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency response service told AFP two wounded were transferred to hospital but subsequently pronounced dead.

Gil Bismuth, an MDA medic, said he had treated the wounded "lying near the car unconscious."

The Israeli military said soldiers were "pursuing the terrorists and are blocking the area" around the scene. Israeli security forces were deployed along the road and searching vehicles, an AFP photographer saw.

The shooting came after Israeli forces on Wednesday launched their deadliest West Bank raid in nearly 20 years, which left 11 Palestinians dead and more than 80 with gunshot wounds in Nablus.

The Shomron Regional Council, which administers Israeli settlements in the northern part of the West Bank, said those killed in the Sunday attack were Jewish.

It came as Israeli-Palestinian talks took place in Jordan aimed at quelling a surge in West Bank violence.

Orit Strock, a settler and government minister, called for the "immediate return of the Israeli delegation" from the meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.

Ben-Gvir is one of two Netanyahu coalition partners with a history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians and who have been given critical powers regarding the West Bank, where the government has vowed to continue Israeli settlement expansion.

The West Bank is home to about 2.9 million Palestinians as well as an estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers who live in state-approved settlements considered illegal under international law.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967.

Since the start of this year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 62 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.

Eleven Israeli civilians, including three children, a police officer and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.

This year's intensifying unrest has sparked international concern and calls for de-escalation.