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Israel accuses Hamas of settler deaths

Tensions have been further inflamed by frequent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces at al-Aqsa compound

Published: Updated:

Israeli security forces said Monday they had captured five alleged Hamas fighters who carried out last week’s killing of a Jewish settler couple in front of their young children.

The suspected attackers were arrested the day after Thursday’s West Bank shooting, a joint police, army and Shin Bet statement said, adding that “the squad belonged to the Hamas movement in Nablus.”

It said that an unspecified number of accomplices were also rounded up.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated the security forces on their work and said Israel was using an “iron fist” to crush a rising wave of Palestinian unrest.

“We are not prepared to give immunity to anybody, not to any rioter... or any terrorist, anywhere, and therefore there are no limits on the activities of the security forces,” he said in a televised address, as he prepared to convene his security cabinet in special session.

Netanyahu is under pressure from right-wingers in his government coalition after four Israelis were killed in as many days and several others wounded, among them a two-year-old child.

Monday’s statement, in Hebrew, said that the suspects had confessed to shooting dead Rabbi Eitam Henkin and his wife Naam in their car as their four children sat in the back.

“The detainees were taken to the Shin Bet for questioning and confessed to involvement in the attack in which the Henkins were murdered,” it said.

Tensions engulf Jerusalem as clashes intensify

Violence intensified in Occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank on Sunday after Israelis were targeted in two stabbing attacks and a Palestinian was killed in a clash with Israeli troops, officials said.

A Palestinian man stabbed and wounded an Israeli teenager in Jerusalem, just hours after another knife-wielding attacker killed an off-duty Israeli soldier and a rabbi, nearby in the walled Old City, police said.

Officers shot dead both Palestinians, a police spokesman said, and Israel’s government announced it was barring Palestinians from entering the ancient district for two days, apart from people who lived there.

Later on Sunday, an 18-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli soldiers during clashes in Tulkarem in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, medics and Palestinian police sources said.

Huzeifa Othman Suleiman is the first Palestinian to be killed in a fresh outbreak of violent clashes in the West Bank after a Palestinian attacker killed two Israelis in Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday evening, prompting Israel to tighten security.

Netanyahu met security chiefs on Sunday to discuss more action to tackle rising violence in Occupied East Jerusalem, which includes the Old City, and the West Bank, areas that Israel captured in a 1967 war.

In broadcast remarks, Netanyahu said the new measures would include speeding up the razing of homes of Palestinian attackers.

Tensions have been further inflamed by frequent clashes between Palestinian and Israeli security forces at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Palestinians have said they fear increasing visits by Jewish groups to al-Aqsa compound, revered by Jews as the site of Biblical temples, are eroding Muslim religious control there.

Israel has pledged to maintain Muslim prayer rights at al-Aqsa but has frequently banned young Muslim men from entering the area on security grounds.

Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.