1 killed, 11 wounded in attack on security checkpoint line

 


(JTA) — At least one Israeli was killed in an early morning shooting attack on the highway leading from the Israeli West Bank settlement of Ma’aleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

Eleven others were wounded in the terror attack Thursday morning, one seriously. The three gunmen were killed at the scene by security forces.

The attack occurred amid Israel’s war against Hamas in Gaza, and amid an accompanying rise in violence in the West Bank. Hours earlier, a house in northern Israel was hit by a missile fired from Lebanon. Another missile shot by the Houthis in Yemen in Thursday targeted the southern Israeli city of Eilat.

The attack comes less than a week after two Israelis were killed in a terror attack on Friday, Feb. 16 at a junction in southern Israel. Israeli officials are concerned that violence may spike during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins March 10 and has historically been accompanied by unrest in Jerusalem.

In Thursday’s attack, according to police, three shooters from the Bethlehem area in the West Bank shot at lines of cars waiting during their morning commute to pass through a checkpoint dividing the West Bank from Israel. The gunmen opened fire with automatic weapons until they were killed.

The Israeli who was killed was identified as Matan Elmaliah, 26, from Ma’aleh Adumim.

Israeli settlers have long complained of dangerous bottlenecks at the checkpoints, and one Israeli was killed in a similar terror attack at a checkpoint in November. Palestinian leaders, the United States and others have objected to construction of West Bank bypass roads near Jerusalem for fear that they would make the prospects of a Palestinian state in the territory even more remote.

Since the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7, Israeli forces have conducted frequent raids on suspected terrorist cells in the West Bank and have revoked the work permits of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians previously employed in Israel. On Thursday, Israeli arrest operations were conducted in the West Bank Palestinian cities of Tulkarm, Jenin, and the Hebron area. Nearly 400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed in the territory since Oct. 7.

So far, however, the war in Gaza has not led to widespread unrest among West Bank Palestinians or Arab Israelis. But within Israel’s security establishment, there is significant concern that that could change during Ramadan. Israel’s far-right national security minister, Itamar Ben-Gvir, had called for all Palestinians to be barred from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound on the Temple Mount, a Muslim holy site.

Ben-Gvir visited the site of Thursday’s attack, where he called for additional restrictions on Palestinians’ freedom of movement.

 

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