West Bank: Three Israeli settlers, Palestinian activist killed
Three Israeli settlers - two girls and a 16-year-old boy - were killed Sunday afternoon and three were wounded, one seriously, when Palestinians opened fire on a hitchhiking station at the Gush Etzion junction in the West Bank, south of Jerusalem, Haaretz reported.
The shooting attack was carried out by Palestinian activists traveling in a speeding car. They apparently escaped to the West Bank city of Bethlehem. Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades claimed responsibility for the attack. The statement said that the attack came as a retaliation to the "Israeli aggressions" in the Palestinian areas and the assassination of senior Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza Strip, Mohammad El- Sheikh Khalil.
Shortly after this attack, Palestinians opened fire again near the West Bank settlement of Eli, seriously wounding one Israeli. This attack was also claimed by Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades. Israeli sources, however, raised doubt that Fatah was behind these attacks, hinting at Hamas' involvement.
At the same time, Israeli troops killed a top Islamic Jihad leader while near Jenin, Palestinian and Israeli officials said. Nihad Abu Ghanem, 27, was the top military leader in the town of Burkin, near Jenin in the northern West Bank.