Three settlers were injured Friday afternoon in a shooting attack at a wadi near the West Bank settlement of Neve Tzuf, northwest of Ramallah.
The incident took place as five people toured the area and encountered two terrorists who they said opened fire at them. Later Friday, the Battalions of Struggle and Return, affiliated with the Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Magen David Adom rescue services reported that all the injured were fully conscious. One of the settlers was injured in the leg, one in the stomach and the third in the back. One sustained serious wounds, one was moderately injured and the third was lightly hurt.
The hikers, who were touring an area called Wadi Zarka, alerted the Kiryat Arba emergency center immediately after the incident. It took the rescue forces 40 minutes to locate them and provide them with initial medical care.
Simultaneously, IDF forces began combing the area in search of the terrorists. Military sources reported that it was unclear whether the terrorists reached the area by car or by foot. The settlers did not coordinate their trip with the IDF and it was not approved by security authorities, the army said.
"We are now dealing with providing the injured with medical care, evacuating them and searching for the terrorists," an IDF source said. "We will lay our hands on the terrorists."
The incident took place only one day after the truce between Israel and terror organizations on the southern front went into effect. No Qassam rockets or mortar shells have been fired at the Negev communities since Thursday morning.
Ali Waked contributed to the report