Security forces in intensive hunt for Hebron gunmen

Military sources: Despite double shooting on Sunday, overall figures show a drop in West Bank violence.

By
January 5, 2016 17:43
2 minute read.
Hamas

Hamas' armed wing, releases video it says shows fighters using a Hamas-made sniper rifle to shoot Israeli soldiers.. (photo credit: screenshot)

Security forces and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) are in the midst of an intensive search for the Palestinian gunmen, or gunman, behind two shootings on Sunday that left two soldiers wounded.

As the intelligence search continues behind the scenes, the army’s Central Command units have increased searches of homes, as well as rooftop scans around the Hebron area, where both attacks occurred.

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The shootings do not necessarily mark the start of a new armed phase in the Palestinian violence – in place of the recent stabbings and vehicle ramming attack – a military source told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday, noting the November shooting of a 19-year-old IDF soldier in the Hebron area. The shooting led many to proclaim the presence of a Hebron sniper, but, after intelligence work, a 16-yearold with a hunting rifle was arrested for the attack.

“He was not a sniper. Until we fully understand the incident, and come full circle to apprehend the shooters, it is too soon to know if something new has appeared,” the source said.

Figures documenting the number of West Bank security incidents – including firebomb attacks, shootings and rock throwing on roads – actually show a decrease over the past 30 days, until the Hebron shootings occurred, according to one source.

The IDF Central Command has dealt with past shooting attacks and is not surprised by new ones, the source stated.

Nevertheless, gun attacks are an obvious escalation and present a more immediate danger to the lives of soldiers, the source added.

On Sunday, a gunman from Hebron’s Abu Sneineh neighborhood moderately wounded a female cadet as she stood by the main staircase leading from the street to the Cave of the Patriarchs. She was on an IDF educational tour of the cave. On the same day, a soldier was lightly wounded in a shooting attack at Hakvasim Junction in the South Hebron Hills.

In mid-December, an IDF source told the Post that the military is preparing for a significant escalation in Judea and Samaria, in the form of a rise in firearm attacks and in attempted intrusions by armed attackers into West Bank settlements.

“This will not end tomorrow. The wave of terrorism will continue – no one can predict for how long. We will encounter more shootings. It will not be an organized shift, but I expect to see more gun attacks and attempts to infiltrate communities,” the officer said.

“They will try new things, because the current attacks aren’t working. We’ve studied them. Stabbings have not been very effective recently. They will try something else,” he warned.


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