Gunman captured after attack on Israeli couple in West Bank town
By Raneen Sawafta
HUWARA, West Bank (Reuters) – A Palestinian gunman opened fire on Sunday on an Israeli couple in their car, wounding the man, in a West Bank town where a similar shooting last month prompted Israeli settlers to go on a violent rampage.
Israeli officials said the wounded Israeli, who also has U.S. citizenship, and soldiers at the scene returned fire, wounding the gunman, who was pursued by troops and captured.
The incident occurred as Israeli and Palestinian officials held U.S.-backed talks in Egypt aimed at calming months of violence.
It took place in Huwara, where last month a gunman from the Hamas Islamist militant group opened fire on a car killing two Israeli settlers, also coinciding with a day when Israeli and Palestinian officials held de-escalation talks.
Settlers responded to last month’s incident by torching houses and cars and killing one Palestinian in a rampage described by a senior army commander as a “pogrom.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with U.S. President Joe Biden about Sunday’s shooting attack.
“The prime minister told President Biden that Israel would continue to take action everywhere against terrorists and the architects of terrorism,” Netanyahu’s office said.
Israel’s ambulance service said it had treated a man shot in Huwara. A paramedic, among the first to arrive at the scene, said on Israel Radio that one Israeli man was wounded as he sat in his car with his wife.
Israeli media reported the wounded man was a former U.S. Marine who now lives in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank where he is a security instructor. The U.S. ambassador to Israel confirmed a U.S. citizen had been injured in the attack. The embassy declined to provide further details.
Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip and also has a presence in the West Bank, has denounced the Israeli-Palestinian de-escalation talks that took place last month in Jordan and on Sunday in Egypt. It said Sunday’s attack was a natural response to Israel’s occupation, although it stopped short of claiming responsibility.
The Hamas gunman held responsible for last month’s attack was killed by Israeli forces during a raid on the refugee camp in the West Bank town of Jenin earlier this month.
The West Bank has seen a surge of confrontations, with near-daily military raids and escalating settler violence amid a spate of attacks by Palestinians. Sunday’s talks aimed to head off further incidents when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins later this week.
Over the past year, Israeli forces have made thousands of arrests in the West Bank and killed more than 200 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians, while more than 40 Israelis and three Ukrainians have died in Palestinian attacks.
(Reporting by Ari Rabinovitch, Ali Sawafta; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky, Peter Graff and Matthew Lewis)