Hamas claims responsibility for shooting attack
Spokesman of Islamist group's military wing says lethal Mount Hebron attack was first in series of attacks; adds terrorists who carried out shooting returned safely to their bases. Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority condemns attack, says it contradicts the Palestinian interests, Yesha Council announces will resume construction as 'Zionist response'
Hamas claimed full responsibility for the lethal shooting attack in south Mount Hebron Tuesday in which four Israelis were killed.
Abu Ubaida, spokesman for Izz al-Din al-Qassam said: "Qassam Brigades announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron. Our men have returned safely to their bases."
He further noted, "This attack is a chain in a series of attacks, some have been executed, and others will follow."
Earlier on Tuesday, Hamas Spokesman Fawzi Barhum addressed the attack but did not claim responsibility for it.
"The attack was not meant to impede direct negotiations which failed prior to even starting. This is a natural response by the Palestinian resistance to the enemy's crimes, and is proof that despite the resistance's persecution by the security services and despite Israel's crimes, the Palestinians are capable of responding to these crimes," he said.
Victims' vehicle in scene of attack (Photo: Reuters)
Barhum stressed that the attack was the type of response "which the enemy and occupation should expect. The Palestinian resistance is alive, well and kicking."
PA condemns attackThe Palestinian Authority condemned Friday's attack. A statement released by the PA said the attack contradicts the Palestinian interests.
Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said, "The attack, and its timing are meant to harm the PLO's efforts to garner international support for the success of the peace process and its demands, in order to bring about an end to the occupation.
"This emphasizes the contrast between violence and the Palestinian interests and the Palestinian national perception of the political struggle led by the PLO on a regional and international level on the one hand, and the completion of the state's institutions on the other hand, based on strengthening the popular non-violent struggle against the occupation on the way to establishing an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital in the 1967 borders."
Fayyad urged the Palestinians to renounce violence and wage a non-violent struggle against the occupation. He said that despite the fact that the attack was carried out in territory outside the PA's control, it will continue to take the necessary steps to prevent the recurrence of such incidents.
He said Israel must meet the PA's demand to allow it to take full security control over all areas in the Palestinian territories and warned of a new wave of violence, "which experience shows hurts the Palestinian national interests."
Fayyad added, "Our people understand from experience what serves our supreme interests, and it is therefore united in the struggle to bring an end to the occupation, while abandoning violence in all forms."
During the course of the evening there were reports that al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, Fatah's military wing had claimed responsibility for the attack. Fatah and Palestinian Authority senior officials stressed this was a provocation aimed at covering for the perpetrators' true identity and embarrassing Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The IDF stressed that despite the serious blow served to Hamas infrastructure in the West Bank, the organization has not lost all its abilities and is capable of executing terror attacks.
The sources also mentioned the removal of checkpoints, and said it was a calculated risk that recently proved itself. "At this point it is too soon to start analyzing the matter. The situation in the territories is measured according to many parameters, and decisions are not made arbitrarily. Anything that is removed can be restored, and we will do this – if necessary."
'Price tags', renewal of construction
After the incident, a number of "price tag" responses by settlers were recorded.
Stones were hurled at Palestinian vehicles in the Havat Gilad, Givat Assaf and Silwad areas. In Yitzhar, Security forces blocked a group of settlers who approached an isolated Palestinian home. A Molotov cocktail was hurled at a Palestinian vehicle near Naalin. No injuries were reported.
Also in response to the attack, the Yesha Council and heads of West Bank Jewish communities announced Tuesday that they will be breaking the settlement construction freeze as of 6pm on Wednesday.
"The Zionist answer is to build and support. They shoot and we build. Each does as he believes," a Yesha Council statement noted.
Hanan Greenberg, Aviel Magnezi and Reuters contributed to this report
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