A suspected Palestinian attacker killed an Israeli woman and seriously wounded a man in the south of the occupied West Bank on Monday, Israeli authorities said, as violence continued to flare in the restive territory shortly after another shooting killed two Israelis.
The latest attack is part of a sharp escalation of violence in the region in recent months involving Palestinian militants, Israeli security forces and radical Jewish settlers. The combustible mix of armed Palestinians carrying out shooting attacks against Israelis across the West Bank and within Israel as well as near-nightly — and often deadly — raids by the Israeli army to arrest militants has fueled the worst fighting between Israel and the Palestinians in the West Bank in nearly two decades.
Israeli security forces said the suspected Palestinian gunman opened fire on Route 60, the main north-south road in the West Bank, near the major city of Hebron. The army said the attack killed an Israeli woman and seriously wounded a man as the two were driving in the area.
The Israeli rescue service reported the two victims were in their 40s. The deadly shooting came just days after another Palestinian attack killed an Israeli father and son who were washing their car in the Palestinian town of Hawara in the northern occupied West Bank, prompting security forces to embark on an extended manhunt and putting the West Bank on edge.
Nearly 180 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the West Bank since the start of this year, according to a tally by The Associated Press. Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were militants.
But stone throwing youths protesting the incursions and those not involved in the confrontations have also been killed. Some 30 people have been killed by Palestinian attacks against Israelis during that time. Israel says the raids are meant to dismantle militant networks and thwart future attacks. Palestinians say the raids undermine their security forces, inspire more militancy and entrench Israeli control over lands they seek for a hoped-for future state.
Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip.