RAMALLAH, West Bank – An Israeli man was killed and at least two people were injured Monday when civilian vehicles came under fire near the southern West Bank city of Hebron.
The incident could aggravate tension between Israelis and Palestinians that is threatening to unravel peace negotiations.
Israeli news media reported that at least three vehicles were carrying members of a family to a Passover holiday dinner when they came under fire.
“Moments ago, fire was opened at a civilian Israeli vehicle travelling on route 35 near Hebron. #IDF conducting search for the perpetrators,” the Israel Defense Forces tweeted.
A 40-year-old man who was driving one of the vehicles was pronounced dead at the scene. A 28-year-old woman suffered moderate wounds, and a 9-year-old boy was lightly injured, news reports said.
It was not immediately clear how many gunmen were involved in the attack, although a passenger was quoted as saying that he saw at least one person armed with a Kalashnikov rifle and wearing a helmet firing at the vehicles from the side of the road.
The Israeli army closed the area and conducted heavy searches in nearby Palestinian towns.
The Palestinian militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack but did not take responsibility for it. Islamic Jihad described the shooting as a “natural response to the occupation forces and settlers’ crimes against our people and land.”
The attack occurred a day after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon gave three Israeli families the green light to move into a building that had been at the center of a lengthy ownership dispute between settlers and Palestinians in Hebron. Several hundred Israeli settlers live in heavily protected enclaves in the center of the predominantly Palestinian city.
Abukhater is a special correspondent. Special correspondent Batsheva Sobelman in Amsterdam contributed to this report.