West Bank: Two Israelis Shot Dead, Settler Leader Says
Two Israeli brothers were shot and killed in the West Bank on Sunday, local settler leader Yossi Dagan said, calling it an “extremely serious terrorist attack”.
The incident took place in Huwara, south of Nablus in the occupied West Bank, just days after a massive Israeli military raid on Nablus in search of wanted militants left at least 11 Palestinians dead.
The settlers killed on Sunday were named Hillel Menachem Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, 19, the local settler council said.
“Funeral details will be announced later. We embrace the family and will be with them as much as needed,” the Shomron (Samaria) Regional Council said. They were from Har Bracha settlement, said council leader Yossi Dagan.
Video from the scene showed their car had driven through a central reserve and hit a car going the other way, suggesting they had been shot while driving.
The Israel Defense Forces said earlier that a “terrorist arrived at the Einbus junction and opened fire on an Israeli vehicle”.
The two Israelis were taken to hospital after the attack, the IDF said, but later died, the medical agency Magen David Adom said. The Israeli army added that it was pursuing the attacker.
Another local settler leader said he was present when the two men were shot.
“The shooting took place right behind me. It looked terrible – the shots were point-blank,” said Shai Alon, the head of the Beit El council, adding that Israel must “go to war against those who wish us harm.”
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but Lion’s Den had vowed revenge after Wednesday’s raid in Nablus.
Six of those who died there were members of the Palestinian militant group, which emerged in the city last year.
“As great as the pain fills Nablus, the occupation will taste twice as much pain,” the group said, referring to Israel. “They will know that the fighters of the honorable groups in Nablus will not back down.”
Dagan, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, called on Israel, after Sunday’s killings, to halt ongoing security talks between Israel and the Palestinians brokered by Jordan, Egypt and the United States, saying: “I demand that the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense and all ministers return the delegation of futile talks to Aqaba…. We must launch an operation against terrorism!
Israel and the Palestinian Authority confirmed earlier on Sunday that they were holding five-party talks in Jordan just after one of the most violent starts to the year in two decades. Egypt and the United States participate with hosts Jordan.
An Israeli official said the participants will “discuss ways to ease security tensions in the region ahead of the month of Ramadan,” which begins in March.
The Israeli delegation includes National Security Advisor Tzachi Hanegbi; Shin Bet chief Ronan Bar; the coordinator of government operations in the territories, Major General Rasan Elian, and the director general of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ronan Levy, the source said, asking not to be named discussing diplomatic negotiations.
The high-level Palestinian delegation “will stress the need to stop all unilateral Israeli actions and to respect the signed agreements”, the official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported on Sunday.
Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement that governs Gaza, condemned the Palestinian Authority’s involvement, calling it “a fruitless move”. A statement from Hamas urged the PA to “irrevocably end security coordination” with Israel, which the Palestinian Authority officially halted in January after an Israeli raid in Jenin that left 11 Palestinians dead.
Lion’s Den and the Palestinian National Initiative, an independent political party, also urged the PA not to participate.