2 Soldiers Killed in Shooting Attack in West Bank City of Hebron

Two Israel Defense Forces soldiers were killed Thursday night at a roadblock near the Tomb of the Patriarchs, a Jewish holy site in the center of the West Bank city of Hebron. The two soldiers, male and female, were part of a Military Police unit guarding the area. On Friday morning, the IDF destroyed five houses in the area, including the home from which gunmen shot and killed the two soldiers.

The soldiers killed in the attack have been identified as Corporal Keren Ya'akobi, 19, from Hadera and Sergeant Maor Kalfon, 19, from Kiryat Yam. Ya'akobi was laid to rest Friday at noon in the military cemetery in her hometown. Kalfon's funeral was held Friday at 1 P.M. at the military cemetery in Tzur Shalom.

Ya'akobi was the first female operational fatality since the start of the intifada in September 2000, though 18 months ago, a female member of the Border Police was seriously wounded during a patrol along the Green Line near Tul Karm.

The incident occurred at about 8 P.M. when the soldiers from the Sahleb unit of the Military Police were guarding a position near the Tomb of the Patriarchs.

Initial investigation of the attack suggests that two armed militants opened fire against the two soldiers at very close range, leaving them no chance to return fire. Ya'akobi was killed almost instantly while the male soldier died a short while later.

The IDF imposed a curfew on the Hebron following the attack, Israel Radio reported.

Large IDF forces arrived and searched the area. Footprints, most likely of the attackers, were found leading to a nearby home, but the terrorists were not found during a search of the premises. The attack is the first since the bloody battle on November 15 in which 9 Israeli soldiers and 3 civilian security officers from Kiryat Arba were killed when ambushed by three Islamic Jihad militants.

Palestinians: Hamas man killed Palestinian sources reported Friday that IDF soldiers shot and killed a senior Hamas activist, Abed Al-Yosef Abu-Mussa, in the West Bank village of Hirbat Ibrahim. Abu-Mussa was apparently killed during a gunfight between the IDF and Palestinians, while trying to flee his home.

An IDF source said that intelligence information had suggested that Abu-Mussa was planning to send a suicide bomber into Israel within the next few days.

"The blood of martyrs will not be shed in vain," Hamas said over loudspeakers in Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. "God willing, we will have revenge. Our response will be soon."

Hamas supporters began gathering for a mass rally in the southern Gaza town on Friday to mark the 15th anniversary of the group's founding.

Large numbers of IDF troops continue to operate in Hebron, in searches after the terrorists who killed two IDF soldiers on Thursday evening. A general curfew was imposed on the city and the surrounding villages, and troops are conducting house-to-house searches.

Palestinians also reported that the IDF demolished the home of Mohammed Asfara, a resident of Beit Kahal, as well as three deserted houses that provided shelter for terrorists.