Four people were killed and four more were wounded in shootings near the settlement of Eli in the West Bank, Israeli authorities and emergency services said Tuesday.
One of the suspected gunman was killed at the scene by a civilian, and the second was killed by Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and Israel Security Agency forces after they tracked down the car he was traveling in, the agencies said in a joint statement.
The four wounded were taken to hospitals in Jerusalem or Petach Tikva, the Magen David Adom rescue service said.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement, claimed the two gunmen as members, calling the attack “a natural response” to the Israeli raid on Jenin a day earlier that left six Palestinians dead.
The shooting attack began in a restaurant near a gas station, where two gunmen shot dead three civilians, said Moti Bukchin, a spokesman for the Zaka rescue service.
The gunmen then came out of the restaurant and fatally shot a civilian refueling his car at the gas stations, Bukchin said.
Another civilian shot and neutralized one of the gunmen while the second fled, the Zaka spokesman said. Zaka is handling the bodies of the four dead, he said.
Maj. Nir Dinar, an Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesperson, said the terrorist who had been neutralized at the scene was dead.
The four Israelis killed were named by their communities as Elisha Antman, 18, and Ofer Fierman, 63, both from Eli; Harel Masoud, 21, from Yad Binyamin; and Nahman Shmuel Morduf, 17, from Ahiya.
Far-right Israeli National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir went to the scene of the shooting and called for settlers to arm themselves.
“I’m calling on the residence of Judea and Samaria to carry weapons,” he said, using the Biblical names that Israel officially uses to describe the West Bank. “They save lives…. We are sitting here like ducks in a barrel.”
Ben Gvir called for Israel to be more aggressive in the West Bank: “Return to the targeted killings, pull down buildings, put up roadblocks, deport terrorists, and put into law the death penalty for terrorists.”
Second suspect tracked down
Israeli Security Agency, known as Shin Bet, and IDF forces later “shot and neutralized” the second suspect, according to a joint statement from the two organizations.
Shin Bet tracked a Toyota vehicle in which the suspect fled, the statement said.
“During the arrest attempt, the suspect tried to escape from the vehicle, was shot and neutralized by the forces. No injuries to our forces,” the statement said.
The statement said a weapon used in the attack was found in the car.
Israeli troops had set up roadblocks in the area, the IDF said.
Residents of Eli were told to stay in their homes while the search for the second gunman was ongoing.
The chief IDF spokesperson, Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, said in a statement that the IDF did not have intelligence information warning of the attack before it happened.
Hamas later claimed the gunmen as members, and said they were acting in response to a huge firefight in Jenin on Monday.
“We mourn the martyr Muhammad Shehadeh, and we affirm that the operation south of Nablus is a clear message to the criminal occupation government,” Hamas said in a statement referring to Israel.
Hamas said Shehadeh was 26 and from the village of Urif, southwest of Nablus. The other gunman was named as Khaled Sabbah, 24, from Tubas in the West Bank.
Videos from his home village showed a funeral procession and burial for him shortly after he was tracked down and killed by the IDF and Shin Bet.
Photographs on social media suggested that the two were friends.
The shooting “came as a natural response to the Jenin massacre yesterday,” the militant group said.
Neve Yaakov is built on land which Israel captured in 1967, which makes it a settlement under international law. Israel unilaterally annexed it along with other parts of east Jerusalem in 1980, and considers it a neighborhood of Jerusalem.
Call for international intervention
There are now fears of attacks by settlers against Palestinians in revenge for Tuesday’s shooting.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates Tuesday called for “urgent and genuine international intervention, particularly from the United States,” to prevent “escalating attacks.”
It warned of a “planned explosion” by “extremist elements,” referring to Israeli settlers.
The latest violence comes a day after an Israeli military raid in the city of Jenin killed six Palestinians, including three militants, and injured 90 others. Eight Israeli military personnel were injured in the incursion to arrest two wanted Palestinian suspects.
While the Palestinian ministry released its statement, the US Ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, condemned the killing of the four Israelis Tuesday.
“I condemn in the strongest terms the senseless murder of four innocent Israelis today — my heart is with their grieving family members,” Nides said on his official Twitter account. “Deeply concerned about the civilian deaths and injuries that have occurred in the West Bank these past 48 hours, including that of minors. Praying for the families as they mourn the loss of loved ones, or tend to those injured.”
Late Monday, after the Jenin raid and before the shooting near Eli, a State Department spokesperson said the US “urges de-escalation between Israel and the Palestinians.”