RAMALLAH: Palestinian attackers killed at least four people and wounded several others when they opened fire on an Israeli settlement in the West Bank on Tuesday.
Hamas said a member of its armed wing took part in the attack in response to Monday’s Israeli raid on Jenin, where six people died and dozens more were injured.
Tuesday’s shooting set off a spiral of violence as Israeli settlers attacked Palestinians and damaged cars on the road linking Ramallah and Nablus, and beat residents in the town of Hawara, south of Nablus.
Reports said that at least two Palestinian gunmen arrived at the entrance of the Eli settlement in a black Chevrolet armed with M16 rifles. They shot at the guard then killed settlers as they walked to a nearby petrol station on the edge of the settlement.
The gunmen then entered a restaurant and opened fire. One was killed by a settler, while another fled in a stolen car and was later shot dead by Israeli forces near the northern city of Tubas.
The attack came a day after six Palestinians were killed and 91 were injured in Jenin as Israeli forces used Apache helicopter gunships for the first time in several years in a raid on the city’s refugee camp.
Ghassan Al-Khatib, a Palestinian political analyst, told Arab News that he expected violence to escalate as settlers and Palestinians launch reprisal attacks.
Saleh Al-Arouri, a senior Hamas leader abroad, said: “We warned (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu that harming the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque was like playing with fire and that our people and their valiant resistance will continue to defend Al-Aqsa no matter how many sacrifices are made.”
Hazim Qasem, the Hamas spokesman in Gaza, said: “The West Bank revolutionaries are striking everywhere. This great intifada will continue and will not stop until the Palestinian goals of freedom and independence are achieved.”
The Islamic Jihad armed group called Tuesday’s attack “a natural response to the escalating crimes of the occupation against the Palestinian people.”
It said the “heroic guerrilla operation” was a part of the Palestinian “legitimate right to self-defense” and demonstrated “the vitality of the resistance.”
The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said the “Israeli enemy would pay from the blood of its soldiers and settlers for its crimes against the Palestinian people.”