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One killed, eight wounded in gun attack near West Bank settlement

By AFP - Feb 23,2024 - Last updated at Feb 23,2024

A member of the Israeli forces inspects a damaged car at the scene of a shooting attack near the Maale Adumim settlement in the East of Jerusalem on Thursday (AFP photo)

MAALE ADUMIM, Palestinian Territories — Three Palestinian fighters killed one person and wounded eight when they sprayed automatic weapons fire at vehicles in a “terror attack” on Thursday near a Zionist settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, police said.

The three shooters were “neutralised”, police said, and an AFP photographer later saw their bodies at the scene of the attack on a highway east of Jerusalem, where five cars were riddled with bullets.

“Two terrorists were neutralised on the spot,” police said. “In the searches conducted at the scene, another terrorist was located who tried to escape and he was also neutralised.”

The fighters were identified as Mohammed Zawahrah, Kathim Zawahrah, and Ahmed Al Wahsh by Israel’s internal security service Shin Bet.

Violence was already on the rise across the West Bank prior to the Gaza war sparked by Hamas’s October 7 sudden attack, but has escalated since then to levels unseen in nearly two decades, with hundreds killed in recent months.

Israel’s far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the site of Thursday’s attack where he told journalists: “The enemies... want to hurt us. They hate us.”

He argued that “we need to distribute more weapons” and that “our right to life is superior to the freedom of movement” of residents governed by the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmud Abbas.

“There should be more restrictions and we should put barriers around villages and limit the freedom of movement” of people from the West Bank, Ben Gvir added.

The attack came after two people were shot dead last Friday at a bus stop in southern Israel near the town of Kiryat Malakhi.

Escalating violence 

The West Bank has seen near-daily raids by the Israeli military that often turn deadly.

Israeli forces and settlers have killed at least 400 Palestinians in the West Bank since the Gaza war broke out, according to the Palestinian health ministry in Ramallah.

Israel captured the West Bank — including East Jerusalem, which it later occupied — in the Juneof 1967.

Around 475,000 Jewish settlers currently live in the occupied West Bank, in settlements considered illegal by the United Nations and most of the international community.

The West Bank’s Palestinian population is about 2.9 million.

The Palestinians claim the territory as the heartland of a future independent state, a goal being discussed by the international community as the Gaza war rages into a fifth month.

Israel’s parliament on Wednesday overwhelmingly backed a proposal by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu opposing any unilateral recognition of a Palestinian state. 

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