At least four people were killed and several others wounded in a terrorist shooting attack at a gas station outside the northern West Bank settlement of Eli, first responders said on Tuesday.
One of the attackers has been neutralized, but it is believed that there are other terrorists in the area.
Residents of Eli were requested to remain inside their homes as the IDF searches for additional suspects. The order was lifted several hours later.
According to the Magen David Adom, one of the wounded is in serious condition, two others are in moderate condition and one more was slightly injured. They were taken to Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikva and Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem.
The terrorists arrived in a black Chevrolet to the gate of the Eli settlement at about 4 p.m. and shot at the guard. They then proceeded to the gas station, where one of the gunmen shot two passers-by and killed them on the spot. After that, he entered the Hummus Eliyahu restaurant in the station complex and shot off several rounds.
The neutralized shooter has been identified as Mohand Shahada, 25, from the village of Urif near Nablus; he was a member of the military wing of Hamas. A second gunman reportedly fled north toward Nablus. According to an initial investigation, the gunmen stole a car that they drove to Eli. The second gunman escaped in the vehicle.
The second gunman was reported to have been killed about two hours after the attack by Israel Border Police officers near the West Bank village of Tubas.
The attack comes a day after an IDF counterterrorism raid went awry and led to an hours-long firefight between Israeli forces and Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Jenin in which six Palestinian assailants were killed and dozens others were injured. Seven Israeli soldiers were also wounded in the shootout. The IDF believed that there would be revenge attacks following the Jenin operation and have been on high alert.
Hazem Kassem, the spokesman for Hamas, said after the Tuesday afternoon attack that it was "in response to the crimes of the occupation in the Jenin camp yesterday." According to him, "The West Bank revolutionaries strike everywhere and in the place where the Zionist occupation does not expect. The ongoing revolution and this great uprising will continue and will not stop unless the goals of our people are achieved in freedom and independence."
Defense Minister Yoav Gallant is set to hold a situation assessment with security officials later on Tuesday following the attack. “The minister is receiving updates on the terror attack and searches are currently underway to locate the terrorists,” sources close to Gallant reported.
Eli settlement chairman Ariel Elmaliach, in response to the attack, said: "I call on the government to stop this incompetence and continue to attack these terrorists everywhere." Just stop the hand-wringing. Start a new Defensive Shield operation. We are exhausted. It's time to put an end to this."
Israel's Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir visited the site of the attack later on Tuesday and called for a military operation in the West Bank. "Settlers have become sitting ducks. I am calling on the prime minister, I am calling on Defense Minister Galant - it is time to launch a military operation in the West Bank. Return to the targeted threats from the air, take down buildings, put up checkpoints, expel terrorists and pass the death penalty law for terrorists in the second and third readings." According to Ben-Gvir, "blockades in Judea and Samaria were removed to supposedly allow a quality of life, freedom of movement - freedom of movement is not more important than our right, the settlers, the freedom to live."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commented on the shooting attack in a statement from the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, saying: "From the bottom of my heart, I send my condolences to the families of the murdered and in the name of the entire nation, best wishes for a speedy recovery to the wounded. Our forces are now operating in the field to deal with the murderers. We have already proven in the last months that we will deal with all the murderers, without exception. Everyone who hurt us - is either in the grave or in prison. It will be the same here."
Netanyahu added that "I want to tell all those who seek our lives - all options are open. We will continue to fight terrorism with all our strength and we will defeat it."
First published: 16:51, 06.20.23