Four Israelis killed by Palestinian gunmen near West Bank settlement

Four Israelis, including a teenage boy, have been shot dead in an attack near a settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Four others were wounded, one of them seriously, when two Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a restaurant and petrol station outside Eli on Tuesday.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas said the gunmen were its members.

One was shot dead at the scene by an armed civilian, while the second fled in a stolen car and was later killed by Israeli forces in the town of Tubas.

Israel’s prime minister said “all options are open” in response to what he called the “shocking and abhorrent terrorist attack”, which followed heightened violence across the West Bank in recent days.

A spokesman for Hamas said the shooting was a response to an Israeli military raid in Jenin on Monday in which seven Palestinians were killed.

Tuesday’s shooting took place just to the south of Eli on Highway 60, the main road between the Palestinian cities of Ramallah and Nablus.

Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said in a statement that the two gunmen arrived in a car from the village of Urif, about 10km (6 miles) to the north.

They opened fire at a roadside hummus restaurant first, killing three civilians, then shot dead another civilian in the forecourt of the petrol station, he added.

One of the gunmen was shot and killed by an armed civilian, but the other was able to flee the scene in a stolen car.

Adm Hagari said IDF soldiers and officers from the Shin Bet security service later found the vehicle near Tubas, 29km to the north-east, and shot and killed the second gunman.

A paramedic with the Magen David Adom (MDA) ambulance service, Motty Dahan, said that he and his colleagues saw a “complex site” when they arrived at the scene of the attack. He added that there were seven victims suffering from gunshot wounds.

“We performed medical checks and began providing medical treatment, three of the victims were evacuated in MDA MICUs [Mobile Intensive Care Units] to hospital, and unfortunately four of the victims were pronounced dead.”

Those killed were identified by Israeli media as 18-year-old Elisha Antman and 63-year-old Ofer Fairman from Eli; 17-year-old Nachman Mordoff from the Ahiya settler outpost east of Eli; and 21-year-old Harel Masoud from Yad Binyamin, a town in central Israel.

The number of Israelis killed was the highest since an attack by a Palestinian outside a synagogue in occupied East Jerusalem in January, when seven died.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement: “From the depths of my heart, I send condolences to the families of those who were murdered, may God avenge them, and on behalf of the entire people, I send my best wishes for a swift recovery to the wounded.”

“I would like to remind all those who seek to harm us: All options are open. We will continue to fight terrorism with full force and we will defeat it,” he added.

A spokesman for Hamas, Hazem Qassem, described the shooting as a “response to the crimes of the occupation [Israel] in Jenin refugee camp yesterday”.

Seven Palestinians were killed – including a 15-year-old boy and a 15-year-old girl named Sadil Ghassan Turkman, who died of her wounds on Wednesday morning – and more than 90 wounded during a raid into the camp by Israeli forces. Several Israeli soldiers were also wounded during the incursion.

Hours after the shooting in Eli, groups of Israeli settlers attacked several nearby Palestinian towns and villages, throwing rocks and setting fire to vehicles, properties and olive groves.

A Palestinian official in the Nablus region, Ghassan Daghlas, told Wafa news agency that a total of 140 cars were damaged or torched, and that 34 Palestinian civilians were injured by rubber bullets and tear-gas canisters fired by Israeli troops as they tried to defend themselves from the settlers.

Meanwhile, far-right parties in Israel’s coalition government put pressure on Mr Netanyahu to launch a major military operation in the northern West Bank to counter the wave of Palestinian attacks.

National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir told reporters in Eli that it was time to “return to targeted assassinations from the air, to bring down buildings, to erect roadblocks, to expel terrorists, and to finish passing the death penalty for terrorists law”.

Since the start of the year, more than 160 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces or settlers in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. The figures include militants as well as civilians.

In addition, 27 people on the Israeli side have been killed – including two foreigners and a Palestinian worker – in attacks or apparent attacks by Palestinians. All were civilians except one off-duty serving soldier and a member of the Israeli security forces.

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