Defense Chief Says Israeli Killed in West Bank Shooting | World News

JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian militants on Thursday opened fire near a Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank, killing at least one Israeli, according to Israeli leaders.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his defense minister, Benny Gantz, expressed their condolences and vowed to catch the attackers.

“The security forces will get their hands on the terrorists very soon and we’ll ensure that justice is served,” Bennett said.

The Israeli military said it was treating other people wounded in the shooting and searching for the attackers.

It said the shooting took place near the settlement of Homesh, in the northern West Bank.

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Homesh was one of four West Bank settlements evacuated as part of Israel’s withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in 2005. According to Israeli media, Jewish settlers from nearby settlements still visit the hilltop to study and pray there.

The Hamas militant group that rules the Gaza Strip praised the attack.

Hazem Qassem, a spokesman for the group, called it a “heroic operation against the soldiers of the occupation army and its murderous settlers.” But he stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack, indicating that the attacker had acted alone.

The shooting comes amid an uptick in Israeli-Palestinian violence. Early this month, a Palestinian attacker stabbed and seriously wounded an ultra-Orthodox Jew outside Jerusalem’s Old City. And just over a week earlier, a Hamas militant opened fire in the Old City, killing an Israeli man.

In both cases, the attackers were killed by Israeli police; both attackers appear to have acted on their own.

At the same time, the northern West Bank has seen a sharp jump in settler violence against Palestinians in recent months.

In mid November, Jewish settlers attacked a group of Palestinian farmers with pepper spray and clubs in the farmland near Homesh, wounding four people. There also has been a rise in settler vandalism of Palestinian property.

Israel captured east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war.

More than 700,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the two areas. The Palestinians, along with most of the international community, consider the settlements illegal and obstacles to peace.

Israel has annexed east Jerusalem in a step that is not internationally recognized and says the fate of the West Bank should be determined in peace talks.

The Palestinians seek both areas as parts of a future independent state.

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