HUWARA: Two Israelis living in a West Bank settlement were killed on Sunday (Feb 26) in a “Palestinian terror attack”, officials said, amid talks in Jordan to discuss worsening violence in the occupied territory.
The fatal shooting came days after Israeli forces launched their deadliest West Bank raid in nearly 20 years, which left 11 Palestinians dead in the northern city of Nablus.
Sunday’s attack just south of the city targeted a car on the main road through the town of Huwara.
A joint statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, confirmed “two Israeli civilians were killed in a Palestinian terror attack”.
A spokesperson for the Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency response service told AFP two wounded were taken to hospital but subsequently pronounced dead.
Gil Bismuth, an MDA medic, said he had treated the wounded “lying near the car unconscious”.
The Israeli military said soldiers were “pursuing the terrorists and are blocking the area” after the shooting, which had not yet been claimed by any group.
Israeli security forces were deployed along the road and searching vehicles, an AFP photographer saw.
A spokeswoman for the Shomron Regional Council, which administers Israeli settlements in the northern part of the Palestinian territory, named those killed as Yagel Yaniv, 20, and his 22-year-old brother Hallel Yaniv.
They were residents of Har Bracha, a religious Jewish settlement close to Nablus, a statement from the community said.
Late Sunday, Israeli media reported clashes between Palestinians and settlers seeking revenge.
The Palestinian Red Cross said 98 people were treated, most after inhaling tear gas, while Israeli emergency services reported three Israelis injured after being hit by stones.
The West Bank is home to about 2.9 million Palestinians as well as an estimated 475,000 Jewish settlers who live in state-approved settlements considered illegal under international law.
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six-Day War of 1967.
The shooting came as Israeli-Palestinian talks were held in Jordan, aimed at quelling a surge in West Bank violence.
After the killings, Orit Strock, a settler and government minister, called for the “immediate return of the Israeli delegation” from the meeting in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba.
At the talks, Israel and the Palestinians “after thorough and frank discussions” pledged in a joint statement to work to prevent new violence.
Both sides “reaffirmed the need to commit to de-escalation on the ground and to prevent further violence”, the statement said.
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad heralded Sunday’s shooting in Huwara as a “heroic operation”.
“It sends a strong message to the Aqaba summit that our (Palestinian) resistance is present,” said Islamic Jihad, which had joined Hamas and other militant groups in opposing the Jordan talks.
Since the start of this year, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of 62 Palestinian adults and children, including militants and civilians.
Eleven Israeli civilians, including three children, a police officer and one Ukrainian civilian have been killed over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official sources from both sides.
The violence follows the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since at least 2005, which has continued since Netanyahu returned to power in December.
He leads an alliance with ultra-Orthodox and extreme-right parties and has vowed to continue Israeli settlement expansion in the Palestinian territory.
Netanyahu handed his ally Ben-Gvir critical powers in the West Bank, despite the hardliner’s history of inflammatory remarks about Palestinians.