Two Israelis wounded in second West Bank shooting attack in two days
Hamas claims responsibility for both Wednesday and Tuesday's shooting attacks, saying they are in response 'to crimes of Israeli occupation.'
Two Israelis were wounded, one seriously, on Wednesday night in a shooting attack in the West Bank, one day after a similar attack left four Israeli civilians dead.
The attack on Wednesday occurred at Rimonim Junction, near the Israeli settlement of Kochav Hashachar and east of the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Around 11 p.m., there were reports of a shooting in the Rimonim Junction area, and a car was found overturned after police and emergency crews conducted sweeps of the area.
Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Palestinian gunmen ambushed the Israeli car, which was riddled with bullets, he said. Police are reported to have found 20 bullets, which were unloaded into the car which was attacked.
Preliminary reports said the attack was a drive-by shooting, executed in a similar fashion to Tuesday's attack. IDF troops are continuing to scour the area for the assailants.
Hamas has claimed responsibility for both Tuesday and Wednesday's attacks and have vowed that more attacks would come.
The group said in a short SMS message sent to reporters on Wednesday that its militants opened fire at an Israeli car and wounded two Israelis, one of them seriously.
"This attack is a message to those who promised that Hebron attack, which was carried out on Tuesday, won't be repeated again," said the group's SMS message.
Abu Obeida, the spokesman for the Hamas armed wing in the Gaza Strip, said in a news briefing that the second attack in the West Bank comes "in the frame of the response to the crimes of the (Israeli) occupation."
The victims are a couple, both in their 30s. One of the victims of the attack has been identified as Moshe Moreno, who is a rabbi for a pre-army program in the West Bank settlement of Ma'ale Efrayim. He is listed as in serious condition. His wife, who was riding in the car with him, was also lightly injured in the attack.
An Israeli woman was killed near the same junction in 2002 when a terrorist shot at her car as she drove on a nearby road.
The attack on Wednesday was the second shooting in as many days against Israelis in the West Bank, and comes on the eve of the start of direct Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in Washington on Thursday.
A senior U.S. State Department official said about that the attack on Wednesday, "this kind of savage brutality has no place in any country, under any circumstances."
The president of Egypt's spokesman, Ambassador Suleiman Awad sent his condolences to victims of both Wednesday and Tuesday's attacks. Despite Hamas claiming responsibility for Tuesday's attack, Awad said Egypt "will not give up on Hamas."
"We’ve tried for several months to strike a deal with regard to Shalit and the Palestinians' division – but Mashal, who stays in Damascus, receives lots of money from Iran, they have their private agenda instead of pursuing the Palestinian agenda," Awad said, referring to Hamas leader in Syria Khaled Mashaal.
U.S. President Obama, meanwhile, earlier Wednesday described the fatal shooting one day earlier as a senseless slaughter that will not stop the U.S. from seeking peace in the Middle East.
"There are going to be extremists and rejectionists who, rather than seeking peace, are going to be seeking destruction, and the tragedy that we saw yesterday, where people were gunned down on the street by terrorists who are purposely trying to undermine these talks, is an example of what we're up against," Obama said.
Netanyahu applauded Obama's condemnation of Tuesday's killing, and said such attacks are carried out by people "who do not respect human life and who trample human rights into the dust and butcher everything they oppose."
Israeli settlers in the West Bank also on Wednesday said they would break a government freeze on construction in their communities to protest the Palestinian shooting attack on the eve of new peace talks.