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Palestinian Kills 2 Israeli Soldiers After Israel Kills 2 in West Bank Raids

Palestinian Kills 2 Israeli Soldiers After Israel Kills 2 in West Bank Raids

Thursday, 13 December, 2018 - 14:30
Palestinians look at a damage after an Israeli raid killed Ashraf Naalweh during an arrest raid in the Asker refugee camp near the West Bank city of Nablus, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
West Bank- Asharq Al-Awsat
A Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli soldiers at a bus station in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, Israel's military said, hours after Israeli forces killed two Hamas members it blamed for earlier deadly attacks.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an Israeli military spokesman, said the gunman had climbed from a car at a junction near Ofra settlement and opened fire at Israeli troops and civilians standing nearby. In addition to the two soldiers killed, a third was wounded.

The attack took place near the site of a drive-by shooting on Sunday that wounded seven Israelis, including a pregnant woman whose baby was delivered prematurely and later died.

Also on Thursday, a man stabbed and wounded two Israeli police troopers in East Jerusalem and was shot dead, police said. His identity was not immediately clear.

In earlier overnight swoops in the West Bank, Israel said on Thursday its commandos had killed the Palestinian behind Sunday's attack, as well as another wanted for an Oct 7 shooting at a settlement industrial park that killed a man and a woman, both civilians.

East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Gaza Strip were captured by Israel in a 1967 war. Palestinians hope to establish a state in the three occupied territories.

The West Bank is under Israeli military occupation, with the Palestinian Authority exercising limited self-rule. Israel has withdrawn its settlers and soldiers from Gaza but maintains a blockade on the coastal strip, which is now controlled by the armed group Hamas.

The increase in violence in the West Bank looks likely to fray Israel's already strained ties with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority.

The vehicle in Thursday's attack on the Israeli soldiers fled toward Ramallah, Conricus said, prompting Israeli troops to shut down entrances to the West Bank city and to begin searches and roadblocks.

While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, Fawzi Barhoum, a Gaza-based spokesman for Hamas, hailed that attack as an "heroic and brave operation".

Abbas's Western-backed authority has continued to coordinate with Israel on security in the West Bank, despite deepening rancor between Israelis and Palestinians at a political level since negotiations broke down in 2014.

Conricus would not say whether Israel thought Thursday's shooting was carried out by an organization, or by someone acting independently. But he said that recent attacks had been "glorified" on Palestinian social and regular media outlets.

"We are definitely aware of the phenomenon of copycats and our forces are deployed accordingly." He added: "This could definitely fall into that pattern."

Abbas has condemned the latest round of violence in the West Bank, criticizing both militant attacks and the tough Israeli response. Abbas's office issued a statement on Thursday blaming the recent events on Israel's "policy of repeated raids into cities and incitement against the President, and the absence of a peace horizon".

Abbas also accused Israel of incitement against him.

His statement says that "the absence of the horizon of peace is what led to this series of violence, which we condemn and reject, and for which both sides pay a price."

The statement also added: "Our permanent policy is to reject violence, incursions and terror of the settlers, and the need to stop incitement and not to create an atmosphere that contributes to the aggravation of the situation."

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