Prime Minister Ariel Sharon condemned the shooting attack that wounded two Border Guards Monday in in Hebron near the Cave of the Patriarchs, and pledged that Jews will continue to worship there.
An initial investigation reveals the gunman opened fire near an IDF post, wounding two members of the Border Guard.
One of the two involved in the incident is in critical condition, the other sustained light wounds to his shoulder.
The two were evacuated by Magen David Adom ambulance service to the Hadassa University Hospital Ein Karem in Jerusalem for treatment.
After cordoning off the area, the IDF arrested a Palestinian suspect near the site of the attack. Soldiers also found a letter in his posession. He has been handed over to security forces for questioning and to determine whether the letter in his possession is infact a suicide note.
"This attack again sharpens the unequivocal stance of the State of Israel that in order to stop terror, a determined war against the terrorists, their dispatchers and those who fund them must be undertaken," Sharon said in the Knesset shortly after the shooting.
"The attack this morning at the Cave of the Patriarchs is an attempt to harm Jewish freedom of worship in one of its most sacred places," Sharon said. "All around the world, we fight for the right of Jews to pray without harm, and protect the freedom of worship for all people - Jew, Muslim or Christian - to pray in their sacred places in Israel."
He said Jews will continue to pray at Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and to live there.
'We have been neglected'
Orit Struck, a Hebron resident told Ynet the terrorist shot toward the ocave's opening while worshippers were inside praying.
“The gunman fired from the direction of the Kasbah,” she said. “A policeman living in Kiryat Arba fired back and the gunman fled.”
Struck said residents contacted the army chief of staff less than a month ago and warned him about the decision to transfer the majority of Hebron to Palestinian rule.
“We warned him that it would end in heavy terror attacks, but the chief of staff said it was the responsibility of political officials,” she said. "If it hadn’t been for the policeman’s initiative - he is not supposed to actually open fire just to keep the peace - the incident would have been much worse.”
In response to the shooting, the Jewish Settlement Council in Hebron said the government is to blame, as it has neglected to protect its citizens and soldiers in the city.
Mofaz and Abbas talks
The shooting incident took place ahead of imminent talks between Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas in a bid to restart the political process between Israel and the Authority which halted in wake of the Tel Aviv terror attack last month.
The two were expected to discuss the timetable for the transfer of West Bank cities to Palestinian security control.