West Bank shooting, stabbing spree prompts manhunt

 washingtontimes.com  03/17/2019 10:12:33   Aron Heller

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian killed an Israeli and seriously wounded two others in a West Bank shooting and stabbing spree Sunday before fleeing and setting off a massive manhunt, the Israeli military said.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the attacker stabbed an Israeli soldier at the entrance to the Ariel settlement, southwest of the Palestinian city of Nablus, and then took his assault rifle. He then opened fire toward several passing vehicles, striking civilians. Another car slowed to a stop and the attacker then boarded it and sped away, firing toward soldiers along the way before escaping into a nearly Palestinian village.

Conricus said Israeli troops have gathered at the entrance to the village to assist in the manhunt. He said it was unclear if the assailant acted alone or with the assistance of others, and whether he belonged to any Palestinian militant group.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the chase was ongoing and he was confident Israeli forces would apprehend those behind the attack and “bring them to justice as we have in all previous cases.”

Israel’s Magen David Adom rescue service said the wounded were a 35-year-old man and a 20-year-old who were treated on the scene in serious condition before being evacuated to a hospital.

The attack comes after two Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire last week in separate West Bank incidents, which followed a period of relative calm. On Thursday, Hamas fired a pair of missiles from Gaza toward the Israeli city of Tel Aviv in a rare attack into the heart of Israel that looked to set the sides into another round of escalation. But the launch was apparently a technical malfunction and after a brief Israeli reprisal calm was restored.

Israel is currently in the midst of an election campaign, and Egypt is trying to broker a long-term truce between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers.

Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in the West Bank. Israeli forces have killed more than 260 Palestinians in that same period. Israel has described most of the Palestinians killed as attackers, but clashes between protesters and soldiers have also turned deadly.

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