World

One dead as gunmen open fire on West Bank highway

February 22, 2024
Israeli security forces and members of Zaka rescue service carry a body from the scene of a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, Thursday, Feb. 22
Israeli security forces and members of Zaka rescue service carry a body from the scene of a shooting attack near the West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim, Thursday, Feb. 22

JERUSALEM — At least one person was killed and several others injured on Thursday in a highway shooting in the occupied West Bank on the outskirts of Jerusalem, according to Israeli authorities.

A man in his 20s was killed in the incident, the Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency rescue service said. Five others were shot, with one woman in her 20s in serious condition, it said.

A sixth person was also injured, the MDA said, but did not specify how she was hurt.

In a statement, Israel Police said three gunmen opened fire near the A-Zaim checkpoint after they arrived in vehicles from the direction of the Ma’ale Adumim settlement toward Jerusalem.

They “began firing M-16 automatic weapons at civilians in vehicles” that were waiting in traffic, the statement said.

Police referred to the gunmen as residents of the Bethlehem area, but no further information was given as to who the shooters were.

Security forces “neutralized” two of the shooters at the scene and another “who tried to escape,” it added.

There has been a spate of attacks against Israelis in the occupied West Bank in recent weeks. At least seven were killed in a shooting near a synagogue in Jerusalem in late January 2023, which police chief Yaakov Shabtai described as “one of the worst terror attacks in the past few years.”

New attempts at reaching a ceasefire deal in Gaza are currently underway, Benny Gantz, a member of Israel's War Cabinet, said late on Wednesday.

"Initial signs indicate a possibility of moving forward," said the former military chief and defence minister.

But despite the promising statement, Gantz added that Israel will launch a ground offensive on Rafah during the upcoming Muslim holy month of Ramadan if Hamas doesn't agree to release the remaining Israeli hostages in Gaza.

An attack on the southern city of Rafah, which is estimated to currently host 1.5 million Palestinians – many of whom have fled their homes in Gaza after the beginning of Israel's war – would be devastating to the civilian population.

Several of Israel's key international allies have warned they could severely curtail their support if an offensive goes ahead.

Israeli strikes across Gaza killed at least 67 Palestinians overnight and into Wednesday, including in areas where civilians have been told to seek refuge.

The war began when Hamas-led militants stormed into southern Israel on Oct. 7, killing some 1,200 people and taking around 250 hostage. About a fourth of some 130 captives still being held are believed to be dead. Israel has laid waste to much of the Palestinian territory in response. Gaza’s Health Ministry estimates more than 29,000 Palestinians have been killed. — Agencies


February 22, 2024
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