Two Israelis and two Palestinians killed in West Bank violence

The armed wing of Palestinian movement Hamas said two men killed by Israeli forces were its

A spate of shootings over the past 12 hours, in which three Palestinians and two Israelis have been killed in four separate incidents, has raised tensions in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The IDF expressed concern that the shooting could lead to copycat attacks and said it was exploring the possibility of a link between the shooting and Sunday's terror attack at the Ofra settlement.

In the pre-dawn hours on Thursday, Israeli forces also shot dead a Palestinian accused of killing two settlers in the West Bank last October, following a two-month manhunt.

In another incident, a Palestinian stabbed two Israeli border police in Jerusalem's Old City before being shot dead, in the bloodiest 24 hours to hit the West Bank and Jerusalem in months.

Late on Wednesday night, Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian man driving his taxi near the village of Surda in the central West Bank.

The most recent attack committed by a Palestinian took place on 9 December when seven people were injured and a baby died in a drive-by shooting in the West Bank.

"Our guiding principle is that whoever attacks us and whoever tries to attack us - will pay with his life", he said.

Such attacks have been repeatedly committed by Palestinians and qualified by the Israeli authorities as acts of terrorism.

"It is a part of the new initiative of (Hamas) that made a decision to open a new front in the West Bank after a period of time that they got to the conclusion they will ease down their efforts from the Gaza Strip", Barak Ben-Zur said.




The Shin Bet security service said in a statement that a suspect named as Salah Omar Barghouti, 29, who tried to evade capture during a raid on a West Bank village was shot and killed. The IDF believes that the attacker then fled the scene by vehicle, driving somewhere near Ramallah. One soldier was lightly hurt.

The Israel Defense Forces said in a statement that the gunman exited his vehicle and opened fire on soldiers and civilians standing at a bus stop at the Asaf Junction.

Following the attack, the army circled the nearby city of Ramallah, home to Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

The two were employees of the recycling company where Naalwa worked.

"The security forces are in pursuit of the murderer".

The West Bank has seen simmering violence over long-stalled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. A hunt for the suspect is under way.

Shortly after Barghouti's death, Hamas claimed credit for the deadly Ofra attack, affirming the killed assailant was a member of the group.

"The flame of resistance in the (West) Bank will remain alive until the occupation is defeated on all our land", Hamas said. It released security camera footage that shows the man lunging toward the officers and appearing to stab them.

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