palestinians idf hebron 311.
(photo credit: AP)
Settlers launched several reprisal attacks against Palestinians on Wednesday, in response to the shooting that killed four Israelis a day earlier.
In one incident, about 40 settler youths were spotted trying to set a field on fire near the Beit Hagai settlement – home to the four victims of Tuesday terrorist attack – and stoning Palestinians. Another group of settlers entered a Palestinian neighborhood in Hebron and threw rocks at residents.
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The violence took place as the funeral processions for the four dead Israelis began in Beit Hagai. According to the IDF investigation, they were shot while driving near the Bnei Naim junction near Kiryat Arba. Palestinians in a car overtook them and fired more than 30 bullets at them from close range.
In addition to the ongoing IDF and Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) investigation, Palestinian Authority security forces swept through the Hebron area and arrested almost 300 people affiliated with Hamas. The PA security forces hope to glean intelligence from some of the arrested that will assist in the investigation.
Due to the timing of Tuesday’s night attack – hours before a ceremony kicking off peace talks began in Washington – the PA is extremely motivated to solve the case and catch the murderers on its own.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak vowed, meanwhile, that the IDF will do its utmost to capture the gunmen behind the attack and to prevent additional terrorist action in the West Bank. He called on the Palestinians to demonstrate restraint.
“We will prevent other terrorist attacks from disrupting the relative quiet in the area and from torpedoing the upcoming peace talks,” Barak said during a meeting at Yehuda Brigade headquarters near Hebron with IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and local military commanders.
“We failed to prevent the attack and we are with deep sorrow burying
four citizens – I hope we will be more successful in the future,” Barak
Defense officials said it was not surprising that the attack took place
near Hebron, which in comparison to other West Bank cities still has a
prominent Hamas presence. Izzadin Kassam, Hamas’s military wing, has
taken responsibility for the attack.
The officials said the IDF would stay on high alert over the next few
days amid concerns that Hamas and other terrorist groups will launch
additional attacks aimed at stopping the negotiations beginning in