BEIRUT

Middle East

Hamas praises deadly West Bank shooting

Gaza's Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh gives a speech during a Friday prayer in Bureij Refugee Camp, central Gaza Strip, Friday, July 5, 2013.(AP Photo/Adel Hana)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM: The prime minister of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Tuesday praised a shooting that killed an Israeli and wounded his wife and son as they drove through the West Bank the previous evening en route to a Passover Seder.

Speaking in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh said the attack outside the city of Hebron "brought back life to the path of resistance" against Israel and warned of more attacks in the Palestinian territory.

Monday's shooting came just before the start of the weeklong Jewish holiday of Passover as families gather after sundown for the Seder meal. No one claimed responsibility for the attack.

Hamas and Israel are bitter enemies and have engaged in several rounds of fighting since the militant group seized power in Gaza in 2007 after ousting forces loyal to the Palestinian Fatah party led by President Mahmoud Abbas in fierce street battles. The two Palestinian groups have not reconciled despite several attempts and Hamas now rules Gaza while Abbas governs part of the West Bank.

"We tell the enemy and anyone who thinks he is able to tame the West Bank ... the West Bank will be the future point of our struggle with the enemy," Haniyeh said.

Israeli media said the wounded woman was told in hospital that her 40-year-old husband was killed. It said their wounded son is nine years old.

The attack could further complicate U.S. attempts to salvage the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, lands Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war from Jordan and Egypt.

Two decades of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have not produced results, and the latest U.S. mediation attempt, launched last year by Secretary of State John Kerry, also seems on the verge of collapse.

Kerry has said he wants to see a deal, or at least the outlines of one, by the end of April. But the two sides remain locked in a dispute over the terms of extending talks, without having made any apparent progress on issues such as borders and security arrangements.

Attacks like Monday's were common in the West Bank during the Israeli-Palestinian fighting last decade, but the level of violence dropped significantly in recent years.

Still, The Israeli rights group B'Tselem said Palestinians have killed 17 Israeli civilians in the West Bank since 2009, not counting Monday's fatality.

The group "strongly condemned" the shooting, adding that "attacks against civilians within Israel's borders are no different from attacks against settlers living in the West Bank."

"The argument that there is justification for killing settlers as part of the struggle against Israeli occupation is both legally and morally groundless," it said, adding that all civilians must be protected.

In 2002, at the height of Israeli-Palestinian fighting, a Palestinian suicide bomber blew himself up at a Passover Seder at a hotel, killing about 30 people and wounding over 100.

 

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Summary

The two Palestinian groups have not reconciled despite several attempts and Hamas now rules Gaza while Abbas governs part of the West Bank.

The attack could further complicate U.S. attempts to salvage the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.

Attacks like Monday's were common in the West Bank during the Israeli-Palestinian fighting last decade, but the level of violence dropped significantly in recent years.

Still, The Israeli rights group B'Tselem said Palestinians have killed 17 Israeli civilians in the West Bank since 2009, not counting Monday's fatality.


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