West bank attack 311.
(photo credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Four Israelis were killed Tuesday
night in a devastating shooting attack in the West Bank
believed to have been aimed at torpedoing the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks
set to kick off on Wednesday in Washington
The four, from the settlement of
Beit Hagai, were driving near the entrance of Kiryat Arba when they came under
heavy gunfire. The IDF was investigating two possibilities – that Palestinian
terrorists had laid an ambush alongside the road or that the shots were fired
from a passing car.
Right-wing MKs tie Kiryat Arba attack to talks
IDF troops immediately launched
searches for the perpetrators and the Central Command decided to raise the level
of alert out of fear that Palestinian terrorists will increase efforts to
perpetrate attacks in the coming days with the goal of torpedoing the peace
summit in Washington.
The four were two couples – one
aged 25 and the other 40. One of the woman was pregnant. According to eyewitness
reports, the terrorists succeeded in hitting the passengers in their initial
fire but then approached the car and shot them occupants at close range.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak was briefed on the attack by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen.
Gabi Ashkenazi and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin. Barak spoke with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who is en-route to Washington DC and updated him on the developing events. He also spoke with Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom.
“This is very grave incident,” Barak said. “The IDF and Israeli security forces will do everything they can to capture the murderers. Israel will not allow terrorists to lift their heads and will exact a price from the murderers and those who sent them. This is likely an attempt by the low-life terrorists to prevent the diplomatic process and to hurt the chances of the talks opening in Washington.”
Head of the IDF’s Civil
Administration Brig.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai spoke with his Palestinian counterparts
and updated them regarding the attack. PA security forces were also conducting
their own independent investigation into the attack.
It was unclear if the attack was
carried out by an established terror cell or if it was perpetrated by a small
group of attackers that are not affiliated with a larger terrorist group.
While the IDF apparently did not
have specific intelligence regarding the attack on Tuesday night near Kiryat
Arba, there was a fear in
terror groups would use the launching of the new round of peace talks to
perpetrate attacks within the West Bank.
Ashkenazi and OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrachi toured the
West Bank earlier this week and met with brigade
commanders. Ashkenazi asked the commanders to raise their level of vigilance for
the duration of the summit in
Washington out of fear that either
Hamas, Islamic Jihad or even al-Qaida-affiliated elements will launch attacks
The forces were also asked to
avoid friction with the Palestinian civilian population and to demonstrate
sensitivity at the crossings between
Israel and the