Israeli forces arrest five in West Bank over deadly shooting

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Israeli Forces Arrest Five In West Bank Over Deadly Shooting Israeli Forces Arrest Five In West Bank Over Deadly Shooting
Israel Shooting, © AP/Press Association Images
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By Tia Goldenberg, Associated Press

Israeli forces in the West Bank have arrested five Palestinians over a shooting in central Israel in which a gunman used an assault rifle to kill five people.

Police identified the gunman as Diaa Hamarsheh, 27, from the Israeli-occupied West Bank village of Yabad.

Police shot and killed him late on Tuesday, putting an end to the shooting rampage.


A crowd gathers at the scene of the shooting (Oded Balilty/AP)

The military said the suspects were being questioned. The Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, which represents current and former Palestinian prisoners, said those arrested were Hamarsheh’s relatives.

The incident on Tuesday was the third attack of its kind ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

The attacks, carried out by Palestinian citizens of Israel who were inspired by the so-called Islamic State extremist group, have raised concerns of a new round of violence ahead of a sensitive period where three major Muslim, Jewish and Christian holidays converge.

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Israel ramped up its security presence in Israeli cities and around the West Bank in a bid to snuff out any further violence.


Naftali Bennett (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett was set to hold a meeting of his Security Cabinet after convening senior security officials shortly after Tuesday’s attack.

“We are dealing with a new wave of terror,” he said in a statement. “As in other waves, we will prevail.”

Israel in recent weeks has been taking steps aimed at calming tensions and avoiding a repeat of last year, when clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian demonstrators in Jerusalem boiled over into an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas.

It planned to ease a series of restrictions against Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza and held talks with Jordanian King Abdullah II, who made a rare visit to the West Bank this week, to try to ensure calm during what was expected to be a tense period.


Mourners attend the funeral of Avishai Yehezkel (Oded Balilty/AP)

But the new wave of violence is complicating those efforts.

Israeli authorities have not yet determined whether the attacks were organised by militant groups or whether the attackers acted individually.

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Tuesday’s shootings occurred at two locations in Bnei Brak, an ultra-Orthodox city just east of Tel Aviv.

Police said a preliminary investigation found the gunman was armed with an assault rifle and opened fire on passers-by before he was shot by officers at the scene.

Authorities said five people were killed. Police said one of the victims was a police officer who arrived at the scene and engaged the gunman. Two other victims were from Ukraine, police said.

It was not clear whether the Ukrainians had arrived before or after the war with Russia began.


Avishai Yehezkel was killed in the city of Bnei Brak (Oded Balilty/AP)

In the West Bank, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, saying the killing of Israeli or Palestinian civilians “only leads to further deterioration of the situation and instability, which we all strive to achieve, especially as we are approaching the holy month of Ramadan and Christian and Jewish holidays”.

He said the violence “confirms that permanent, comprehensive and just peace is the shortest way to provide security and stability for the Palestinian and Israeli peoples”.

No Palestinian groups immediately claimed the attack. Islamist militant group Hamas praised the “heroic operation” but stopped short of claiming responsibility.

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On Sunday, a pair of gunmen killed two young police officers in the central city of Hadera, and last week, a lone assailant killed four people in a car ramming and stabbing attack in the southern city of Beersheba.

IS has claimed responsibility for the first two attacks.

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