Two IDF soldiers on leave were killed on Friday in an apparent drive-by shooting south of Hebron. Cpl. Ahikam Amihai (20) and Sgt. David Ruben (21), both residents of the neighboring settlement of Kiryat Arba, were hiking through the Telem Creek area with an unnamed female companion when a group of four Palestinians drove up towards them and opened fire.
Amihai and Ruben, who both served in elite commando units, were reportedly carrying their firearms with them and were able to return fire, killing one of the Palestinian gunmen and seriously wounding another.
The al-Quds Brigades, the military wing of the Islamic Jihad, claimed responsibility for the shooting.
Rescue services at the scene of the attack (Photo: Reuven Tal, ZAKA)
The third hiker in the group managed to take cover as the first gunshots were heard and called the Kiryat Arba security headquarters to alert them of the incident. "We've been hit, there are two critically wounded Israelis here," she reported. However the female hiker had difficulty giving rescue services the party's exact location and the searches took over an hour.
Amihai and Ruben were seriously injured and died of their wounds shortly afterwards, they were pronounced dead at the scene by a military doctor. They will be brought to rest Saturday evening, after Shabbat.
Eli Rosenberg, a volunteer with the regional MDA rescue services told Ynet that the third hiker was crying hysterically when the search party reached the scene after a 1.5 mile walk from the central path.
"She said they had been walking near the creek and noticed a car driving back and forth near them several times. At some point the car left the path and began driving towards them, as its occupants pulled out their weapons," said Rosenberg.
Area of the shooting. IDF still searching for perpetrators
IDF troops have spread out in the region to find the remaining two gunmen, who also may have been injured.
The Kiryat Arba Local Council accused the Israeli government of participating in the murder of two Israelis: "Whoever sets terrorists free and gives them guns arms does not have to pull the trigger to be an accomplice," the council said.
MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) said that Friday's shooting incident increases the need to keep hunting terror organizations, even if some of their members are political leaders.
"(Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas) and the Palestinian leadership must understand that without a real war on terror there will be no real progress in the peace process," Hasson said.
Ali Waked and news agencies contributed to this report