Three Israelis Wounded, One Critically, in West Bank Drive-by Shooting

Manhunt underway for suspects in the shooting of three 19-year-olds: one in very serious condition, one lightly wounded ■ Hamas, Islamic Jihad 'welcome' the attack ■ Netanyahu: 'we will strike our enemies forcefully'

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The scene of the drive by shooting in Tapuah, today.
The scene of the drive by shooting in Tapuah, today.Credit: Rafi Avital

Three people were wounded, one critically, in a suspected shooting attack at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank on Sunday evening. 

The Magen David Adom rescue service said that three people were wounded; Beilinson Hospital confirmed that all of them are 19 years old. They have been identified as students at a yeshiva in the settlement of Itamar. Yehuda Guetta of Jerusalem is now in critical condition, Benia Peretz of Beit She'an is in very serious condition and Amichai Chala of Safed is in mild condition. 

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Guetta and Peretz are treated at Beilinson's intensive care unit and Chala has been released from the hospital on Monday.  

The Israeli military said that they received a report of a suspected shooting attack, and that they are investigating the event. The army suspects that the victims were shot from a moving vehicle that fled the scene.

"We received a report that a suspicious car had arrived at Tapuah Junction and that shots were fired from it at a number of civilians who were there; a number of people were wounded," the army said. "IDF soldiers responded by firing at the suspicious vehicle, which fled the scene." Soldiers are searching for the perpetrators, and have erected roadblocks in the area. 

According to a senior Magen David Adom paramedic, the victims were at the junction's bus stop; two of them were unconscious and the lightly wounded victim was conscious.

Magen David Adom and IDF paramedics worked at the scene to dress their wounds and stop the bleeding, and evacuated two of them to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva. The hospital said that they are currently being treated for their gunshot wounds in the trauma unit. The third victim, who was lightly wounded, was taken to Beilinson later. 

Magen David Adom paramedics and IDF soldiers at the scene at Tapuah Junction in the West Bank, today.Credit: Magen David Adom
Soldiers search for the perpetrators in the West Bank, tonight.Credit: Moti Milrod

The defense establishment believes that the attack was carried out by a cell that had prepared for the shooting in advance, including arming itself, acquiring a vehicle and finding a place to hide. There were likely two assailants in the car that coordinated the shooting.

The Israeli army said on Sunday night that it will send additional troops to the West Bank following a "situational assessment."

The shooting does not resemble lone wolf or copycat attacks of the past, and although it has not yet been confirmed, the defense establishment is not ruling out the possibility that the attack stemmed from internal conflicts within the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank following the cancellation of the Palestinian elections.    

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that "We will not allow terror to raise its head, and we will strike our enemies forcefully."

Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that he wishes a speedy recovery "to the wounded at the shooting attack at Tapuah Junction, and prays for their health. The IDF and security forces will not rest until they get their hands on the terrorists." 

Yamina Chairman Naftali Bennett Tweeted that he is "praying for the recovery of the wounded in the serious terror attack at Tapuah Junction. We must act decisively when confronted with terror: An iron fist and continuing our grasp on the Land of Israel," he wrote.

Islamic Jihad celebrated the shooting. "We welcome the attack, which is a message from the Palestinian people that Al Quds [Jerusalem] is a red line," a statement from the Gaza-based militant group said. "Harming holy sites will lead to an explosion, and this act is proof that the resistance can return to action in the West Bank." Israel recently removed crowd-control barriers at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, a move celebrated by Palestinians at the site. 

A soldier at the scene of the shooting at Tapuah Junction, today.Credit: Moti Milrod

Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanoa said that the organization "Welcomes the attack in the Nablus area. This is a natural and invited response to the crimes of the occupation and the support of Palestinians in Jerusalem." He added, "This act is proof of the continuing Palestinian struggle against the occupation in the West Bank."

David Elhayani, head of the Yesha Council of settlements, said that the shooting "Joins two more terror attacks in the Etzion Bloc, on Friday and this morning. We will not let these murderers change our daily routine, and we will not let these terror attacks slide." 

On Sunday night, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported that five Palestinians wounded in the course of clashes wtih soldiers near Nablus were evacuated to a nearby hospital in Nablus. According to the ministry, one of those wounded is in moderate but stable condition, and the others are in light condition.  

On Sunday morning, soldiers said that a 60-year-old Palestinian woman attempted to stab soldiers at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank. She was shot after IDF soldiers called on her to drop the knife and fired warning shots into the air, and she continued to approach them. She succumbed to her wounds on Sunday evening.

The woman was identified by Palestinian media as Fahima al-Kharub. Her brother told Haaretz that her mental health deteriorated and she had tried to take her own life after she lost her job in a beauty salon as a result of the coronavirus crisis.

On Friday, a Palestinian man attempted to stab an Israeli police officer near a West Bank settlement. The Palestinian started approaching the officer while holding a broken glass bottle. The police officer asked the Palestinian to stop and shot him after he refused to do so.

Ido Efrati and Reuters contributed to this report.

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