Palestinian gunmen killed four people in a shooting attack near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday in an attack the militant Hamas group said was a response to a raid by Israeli forces a day earlier in the flashpoint city of Jenin.
As well as the four killed, Israel’s ambulance service said four more people were wounded in the attack. The Israeli military said a civilian “neutralized” one gunman.
Palestinian officials did not immediately confirm his death but said a second man was killed in the nearby town of Tubas.
The attack took place a day after an hours-long gunbattle between Palestinian fighters and Israeli troops backed by helicopter gunships in Jenin, a major West Bank stronghold of armed Palestinian militant groups.
Six Palestinians were killed and more than 90 wounded and seven Israeli personnel were also wounded during one of the most intense clashes in the West Bank in months.
Far-right police minister Itamar Ben-Gvir called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to launch a full-scale military operation in the West Bank and urged Jewish settlers in the area to carry a weapon.
Israeli public broadcaster Kan said all four fatalities were Israeli, killed by gunmen who opened fire at a roadside restaurant and a nearby gas station on the outskirts of the Eli settlement.
An image of security camera footage circulating on social media showed two men by a road with at least one holding what appears to be an automatic rifle. Reuters could not verify the footage.
Hamas, the militant group which controls the Gaza Strip and has a network of fighters across the West Bank, said the shooter was a member of its armed wing and that the attack was a response to Monday’s operation by Israeli forces in Jenin.
The West Bank, which the Palestinians hope will form part of an independent state along with Gaza and East Jerusalem, has seen an increase in violence over the past 15 months with stepped up Israeli army raids amid a spate of Palestinian street attacks and Israeli settler aggression.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant convened security chiefs soon after Monday’s attack, his office said as settler leaders called for a wide military crackdown on Palestinian militants.
U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians collapsed in 2014 and show no sign of revival.
Israel’s hard-right government is set on expanding settlements in the West Bank, which was captured in the 1967 Middle East War and where Palestinians exercise limited self-governance under Israeli military rule.
Netanyahu’s government includes members who rule out a Palestinian state, while Hamas rejects co-existence with Israel.