On April 7, two Israelis were killed and a third was critically wounded in yet another shooting attack in the occupied West Bank.
The attack took place on the Route 57 highway in the northern Jordan Valley, near the Hamra Junction. The gunmen opened fire at the Israeli-owned car twice causing its crash, before fleeing. At least 22 7.62mm shell casings, typically used by a Kalashnikov rifle, were found at the scene.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) described the shooting as a “terrorist attack” and said that it had launched a manhunt for the gunmen.
“IDF forces are blocking roads in the area and have begun a pursuit of the terrorists,” the military said.
According to the Israeli Magen David Adom ambulance service, two women in their 20s were declared dead at the scene, and a woman aged 48 who was critically hurt in the attack was being taken to a hospital in Jerusalem by helicopter.
The two dead women were reportedly sisters, and their mother was the third casualty. All of them were residents of Efrat settlements.
The Hamas Movement described the deadly attack as “another slap to the Zonist regime”, while the Palestinian Islamic Jihad said that the attack was a natural response to the “continuous Israeli violations” of al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem city.
The attack came just two days after Israeli Police stormed al-Aqsa and arrested hundreds of Palestinian worshippers. The assault provoked rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon. The IDF held Hamas responsible for the attacks and responded by striking sites of the movement in both areas.
The new shooting attack will increase tensions in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Any violent reaction by Israel could lead to further military escalation around Gaza, and possibly even on the northern front with Lebanon and Syria.