Israel Palestine Conflict

Gunmen kill Israeli guard at West Bank settlement

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Two gunmen killed an Israeli guard at the entrance of a settlement in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli army said, and soldiers deployed to a nearby Palestinian town in search of the attackers.

In an apparently unrelated incident soon after the attack in Ariel late on Friday, Israeli forces shot dead a Palestinian man in the northern West Bank village of Azzun, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

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Israel’s military said soldiers there shot at suspects who had thrown firebombs at them.

The shooting in Ariel took to 15 the tally of people killed by Arab attackers in Israel and West Bank settlements in recent weeks, Israeli authorities say.

A United Nations agency estimates Israeli forces have killed at least 40 Palestinians since February, when tensions started to rise.

Two gunmen pulled up to a guard booth at the entrance to Ariel, stepped out of their vehicle and shot dead one of the guards before fleeing the scene, the Israeli military said.

Security forces were in pursuit of the gunmen, it said, adding that soldiers were inspecting those entering and exiting the nearby Palestinian town of Salfit.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has called the attacks since last month “a new wave of terrorism.”

Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that rules blockaded Gaza, did not claim responsibility for the incident in Ariel but praised the attack, saying it was partly a response to Israeli police raids on Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The compound, Islam’s third holiest site, sits atop a plateau in the old city. Known to Jews as Temple Mount, it is the holiest site in Judaism and the vestige of two ancient Jewish temples.

There were repeated confrontations at the site this month when Ramadan overlapped with the Jewish celebration of Passover, which brought more Muslim and Jewish visitors to the heavily policed compound.

Ariel is one of the largest settlements Israel has built in the West Bank, territory it captured in a 1967 war along with East Jerusalem and Gaza, which Palestinians want for a future state.

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