The IDF searched late Sunday night for Palestinian gunmen who shot three 19-year old seminary students hours earlier at the Tapuah Junction in the Samaria region of the West Bank.
Two of the victims were shot in the head and the chest and rendered unconscious. One was critically injured and another seriously injured, while the third suffered only light injuries.
In the dark of night, the IDF scoured the nearby Palestinian town of Beita as well as other neighboring towns for the suspects. Violent clashes broke out in which Palestinians threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the troops, who responded with riot dispersal methods and live fire. The IDF reported that there were Palestinian injuries.
The IDF has decided to reinforce its West Bank combat forces, in light of the shooting, the IDF’s spokesperson announced, according to Maariv, The Jerusalem Post‘s sister paper.
فيديو| لحظة استهداف آلية عسكرية إسرائيلية بـ”المولوتوف” وجنود الاحتلال يطلقون الرصاص الحي في بلدة بيتا جنوب نابلس. pic.twitter.com/nKVGFHgBKO
— المركز الفلسطيني للإعلام (@PalinfoAr) May 2, 2021
The three young men had been standing at a bus stop on Route 60, which is also a hitchhiking post. A gray car stopped, and a gunman fired at them from the vehicle.
A security video showed how people at the scene ducked for cover during the brief shooting.
Soldiers guarding the junction responded with gunfire, but the vehicle escaped either in the direction of the Binyamin region or the Jordan Valley.
“IDF troops are searching for the vehicle and are setting up roadblocks in the area,” the military said.
The three students were transported to Beilinson hospital in Petah Tikva. The Itamar Yeshiva where they studied asked the public to pray for their recovery.
Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan, who went immediately to the scene, called the incident a terror attack.
Senior MDA medic Aviel Mamlia said that when he arrived at the scene, two of the injured were lying unconscious on the ground and one was sitting upright.
Medics treated the wounds and had to resuscitate one of the victims, he said.
“This is a serious incident,” Dagan said. To the Palestinians, he said, “You will never break us.”
The Tapuah junction shooting was the second attack of the day. In the morning, a 60-year old Palestinian woman attempted to stab an Israeli soldier.
A video of the scene showed a standoff between her and two soldiers. She advanced toward them, wearing a traditional black Palestinian dress and a black head covering, with a blue mask. A black bag was strapped over one shoulder and with the other hand, she appeared to hold a knife.
Two soldiers faced her with their guns drawn, wearing flak jackets and vests. They walked backward yelling at her to stop and put down the knife and she walked forward for a few moments, before they shot and critically injured her.
The Palestinian woman was evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem, where she later died of her wounds.
The attacks follow a renewed wave of Palestinian violence, linked partially to tensions arising from Israel’s refusal to publicly announce that Palestinians can vote in Jerusalem during their upcoming elections.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last Thursday postponed the May 22nd Palestinian Legislative Council elections, without setting a new date.
In the last few weeks, Hamas in Gaza has launched over 40 rockets at Israel, and violence between Jewish and Arab residents of Jerusalem rocked the city. That unrest has increasingly spread to the West Bank.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz condemned the attack.
“The security forces are in pursuit of the terrorists and I am certain that they will apprehend them as soon as possible,” Netanyahu said. “We will not allow terrorism to raise its head and we will strike our enemies with force.”
Several Palestinian groups, including Hamas, Islamic Jihad and PFLP, welcomed the ‘heroic’ shooting attack at Tapuah junction: ‘The resistance will continue and the rifle is ready to defend Jerusalem and Al-Aqsa.’
Khaled Abu Toameh contributed to this report.