Father of seven killed in West Bank shooting attack
A settler from the West Bank settlement Shavei Shomron was killed yesterday in a shooting attack near his home.
Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades have claimed responsibility for the attack, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.
Meir Hai, a 45-year-old teacher and father of seven, was killed when militants opened fire at his car on the road between Shavei Shomron and the nearby settlement Einav in the West Bank. He was alone in his car.
The police initially issued a report of a traffic accident, but Magen David Adom medical personnel found the victim suffering from what proved to be fatal gunshot wounds.
There were apparently no witnesses and the first person to approach Hai's car was a Palestinian who found the vehicle overturned by the roadside and probably thought it was an accident. But security forces found shell marks on the car.
Brig. Gen. Nitzan Alon, commander of the Israel Defense Forces' Judea and Samaria division, said at a press briefing that the IDF was trying to find the assailants with the help of preliminary intelligence.
The car used by the attackers was found later burned out in the village of Asira Al-Shamaliyah.
An IDF officer said that in the past week two roadblocks had been removed in the area, one on the road Hai was driving on, about 150 meters from where he was shot.
The roadblock, known as the barrels roadblock, monitored the traffic around Nablus in the direction of Tul Karm, the officer said.
The perpetrators are believed to have fled through where the roadblock used to be to Asira al-Shamaliyah.
Over the past year, the number of terror attacks in the West Bank has dramatically decreased thanks mainly to the Shin Bet security service and IDF. However, IDF officials say attempts to carry out terror attacks continue, especially those perpetrated by local individuals working alone.
Last month two people were stabbed at a Kiryat Arba gas station. The assailant was shot by a security guard and a soldier on leave who happened to be there.
Yesterday's attack sparked harsh responses on the right. The Yesha Council of settlements issued a statement saying that "the murderous shooting attack in Samaria is a direct result of the policy of lifting restrictions on the Palestinians, removing necessary roadblocks in Judea and Samaria and transferring the responsibility for security to those whose ranks have produced many terrorists who murdered Jews. As in similar incidents in the past, once again the gestures aimed at Abu Mazen [Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] carry a price tag of Jewish blood."
MK Michael Ben Ari (National Union) said that "the path of capitulation, the road openings, the [settlement construction] freeze and the release of [Palestinian] prisoners that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu has imposed on us convey to terrorists that Jewish blood is cheap. The terrorist probably thinks that he will be released in the next exchange.
"The Arabs interpret the Israeli government's decisions as a green light to harm settlers."
Another settler committee issued a statement saying that "the murder is a completely predictable outcome of the government's behavior. Anyone who plans to wage war against his Jewish brothers essentially helps Arab terrorists."
The statement added that "this is what happens when the government and army's top priority is the release of murderers and they persecute Jewish settlers."
The head of the Samaria regional council, Gershon Mesika, said that "after a long period of calm, the central roadblock between Samaria communities and Tul Karm was recently removed, despite our warnings. The Israeli government put the 'Palestinian fabric of life' above the lives of its citizens."
The head of the Kedumim council, Hananel Dorani, said that "this murderous attack is a direct result of the government's weakness, [reflected by] the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria and the turning of security resources against Jews."