Ihad Khatib, 28, a non-commissioned logistics officer in the elite Kfir brigade, from the Druze community of Arab Maghar, was stabbed to death yesterday by a member of the Palestinian Authority police at Tapuach Junction, south of Nablus.

Initial reports said the victim had been in his jeep, driving from the direction of Ramallah toward Nablus, when he was approached by the attacker, Mahmoud Khatib, who reached into the vehicle and stabbed Ihab Khatib close to his heart.

The victim tried to flee in his vehicle, which overturned. He was found by rescue personnel who rushed to the scene.

Yossi Margalit, a security officer from a nearby settlement, ran over the suspected attacker, lightly wounding him. He was then arrested and given medical attention on the spot.

The wounded Israeli Defense Forces soldier was transferred to Beilinson Medical Center in Petah Tikva, where he died of his wounds.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the "stabbing incident" and said the PA would "continue to make every effort to prevent such an event from recurring."

He said it "undermines national Palestinian objectives and the Palestinian Authority's commitments." But he said Palestinians were united behind non-violent resistance.

MK Michael Ben Ari of the right-wing National Union party lashed out the government, accusing the prime minister of creating circumstances that facilitate attacks. "[Benjamin] Netanyahu is busy with removing roadblocks and allowing terrorists to move freely, and the consequences are quick to follow," Ben Ari said.

The Yesha council of settlers also blamed the attack on government policy, saying: "The terror attack at the Tapuach junction is a direct result of [Israel's] gestures toward the Palestinians. The pathetic attempts to bolster Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and to lure him back to the negotiating table with security concessions and the transfer of authority over security issues to the Palestinians, from whom the murderer emerged, are once again costing us blood."

The stabbing yesterday comes a month after Rabbi Meir Hai, a 40-year-old teacher and father of seven, was killed when gunmen opened fire at his car on the road near the settlement of Einav. The Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades and Islamic Jihad both claimed responsibility for the attack.