Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon on Friday ordered the military to send reinforcements to the southern West Bank just hours after a suspected Palestinian gunman shot and killed an Israeli civilian and his son and wounded two others.
Ya’alon made the decision following consultations with the army high command and other defense chiefs, including IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot, Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) director Yoram Cohen, Military Intelligence head Herzi Halevi, and the coordinator of government activities in the territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.
This is the second time in the last two months that the IDF has beefed up its forces in the West Bank. In early October, just after a deadly shooting killed Na’ama and Eitam Henkin near the settlement of Itamar, the army sent more troops to man areas there.
A Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis in the southern West Bank on Friday, the military said, while in the nearby city of Hebron Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian involved in stone-throwing clashes, medics said.
The gunman opened fire on a family traveling near the Jewish settlement of Otneil, which is close to Hebron.
A Palestinian vehicle overtook two Israeli cars on a main road and fired at the first, a people carrier, in which a man in his 40s and an 18-year-old youth, thought to be his son, were killed. One of three other passengers in the vehicle was lightly hurt.
“Two Israelis were killed and another wounded when shots were fired at their vehicle,” a statement by the Israeli military said. The army said the gunman had managed to escape and that a search was underway.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent condolences and said: “We will reach the despicable murderers and we will bring them to justice, as we have in the past.”
But Islamist militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack as a “natural response to crimes conducted by the Israeli occupation”.
There has been a wave of attacks by Palestinians since Oct. 1, with at least 14 Israelis killed in stabbings, shootings and other attacks, including Friday’s shootings. At least 75 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israeli forces, including 45 people who were carrying out or about to carry out attacks.
In Hebron, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian during stone-throwing violence. This had erupted during a funeral for another Palestinian who had died of wounds overnight following clashes at a funeral on Thursday, Palestinian medics said.
In other violence on Friday near the West Bank city of Ramallah, 15 Palestinians were shot and wounded by Israelis using live fire, Palestinian medics said.
In Gaza, medical officials said Israeli forces had shot and wounded four Palestinians east of the enclave after they threw stones near the fence with Israel.
The Hebron area suffered the bulk of recent incidents during a surge in violence across Israel, Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank since Oct. 1. The violence has been fueled in part by a dispute over access to a site in Jerusalem holy to both Muslims and Jews.