West Bank shooting leaves 3 dead, 4 hurt
Updated: 2005-10-17 09:03
Palestinian gunmen in a speeding car opened fire on a crowded bus stop
Sunday, killing three Israelis and wounding four others in the deadliest attack
on Israelis in more than three months, Israeli officials said.
Minutes later, militants carried out a second drive-by shooting elsewhere in
the West Bank, seriously wounding one Israeli, officials said.
Also Sunday, Israeli troops shot and killed an Islamic militant and seriously
wounded a bystander in the West Bank, Palestinian and Israeli officials said.
The violence was the worst since a July 12 suicide bombing in the northern
Israeli town of Netanya killed five people. Israeli security officials have
warned that following last month's withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian
militants would shift their focus to the West Bank.
The Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, a militant group loosely affiliated with the
ruling Fatah party, claimed responsibility for the shootings.
Israel responded with tough new measures limiting movement in the West Bank,
security officials said. Exit from Bethlehem and Hebron will be blocked,
Palestinian cars will be banned from the area and arrest raids will be
increased, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not
authorized to speak to reporters.
The decisions were made at high-level consultations led by Defense Minister
Israeli soldiers and paramedics stand at the
scene of a shooting attack at the Gush Etzion Junction south of Jerusalem
Sunday Oct. 16, 2005. [AP]
Amid the violence, Jordan's King Abdullah II promised Palestinian leader
Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday to continue rallying international support for Mideast
peacemaking and offered him help to take control of Palestinian lands
relinquished by Israel.
Abdullah, who met Abbas at a hilltop Amman palace, said Israel's pullout from
the Gaza Strip "must be followed by other withdrawals from the West Bank as
stipulated in the road map" — the U.S.-backed peace plan that envisions
Abbas arrived in Jordan on Friday at the start of a tour that also takes him
to Egypt, France, Spain and the United States, where he is scheduled to meet
President Bush on Thursday.
The first attack Sunday took place at a main intersection in a bloc of
settlements south of Jerusalem. Militants racing by in a car opened fire at
people waiting at a bus stop and at others in nearby cars.
Israeli rescue services said one Israeli died at the scene and two others
died in the hospital. Two were young women, cousins aged 23 and 21, from a
nearby settlement and the other was a 15-year-old boy, Israeli media reported.
The second militant attack took place near the settlement of Eli in the
northern West Bank, relatively far from the first shooting.
Israeli officials immediately condemned the attacks.
"Israel removed roadblocks and made a number of humanitarian gestures to ease
up on the Palestinians," said David Baker, an official in Prime Minister Ariel
Sharon's office. "It's unfortunate that the Palestinians have exploited these
measures to carry out these murderous attacks."
Palestinian officials identified the militant killed Sunday as 27-year-old
Nihad Abu Ghanim, a local Islamic Jihad leader in Burkin, a village outside the
northern West Bank town of Jenin.
The Israeli army said Abu Ghanim was killed when troops on patrol in the area
spotted an armed Palestinian. The man shot at them and they returned fire,
killing him, the army said.
A witness, however, said two Israeli jeeps drove up to Abu Ghanim as he was
driving down the road and shot him inside his car. A bystander was seriously
Though attacks have continued, violence between Israel and the Palestinians
has drastically decreased in recent months following the informal truce the two
sides signed in February.
In an effort to strike a blow at Palestinian militant groups, Israeli troops
have conducted raids across the West Bank in recent weeks, detaining hundreds of
wanted Palestinians. Israel also has demanded that the Palestinians dismantle
militant groups if it wants to restart peace talks.
"The Palestinian Authority has to move from the talking stage to the action
stage," Mofaz said Sunday. "We will not be able to continue in this process if
the Palestinian Authority does not start taking concrete actions against the
Abbas has ruled out such a crackdown, saying it would start a civil war. His
policy of using negotiation and persuasion, rather than force, to stop militant
attacks has achieved only mixed results.