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West Bank attack triggers tension as Israeli elections develop



JERUSALEM – A Palestinian executed a stabbing and shooting attack on Sunday in the occupied West Bank, killing an Israeli soldier and a civilian and fueling tensions over the Israeli elections on April 9, when a former general was arrested leading a new, centrist party, challenges longtime incumbent Benjamin Netanyahu who can better protect the Israelis.

The situation was already unstable.

A fragile calm was restored after two Gaza rockets had been fired in Tel Aviv the night before, without causing damage.

Israel is quickly taking revenge, with strikes on the military sites and connections of Hamas it mentions, the militant Islamist group that controls Gaza. The Israeli military said one of the locations in Gaza is the headquarters for coordinating Hamas activities in the West Bank, where the group attempted to incite violence.

The soldier killed on Sunday was identified as a Staff Sgt. Gal Keidan, 19. On Monday, a second victim, Rabbi Achiad Ettinger, 47, a 12-year-old father from the Eli settlement and director of a seminary in Tel Aviv, died of his wounds. Another soldier was seriously injured. On Monday morning, the attacker was still at large.

Hamas praised the attack as a "courageous and courageous operation" without assuming responsibility. In a statement, the West Bank described it as a "strategic" place where it was possible to surprise Israel with violent attacks.

The attack began when a Palestinian man stabbed Sergeant Keidan near the settlement of Ariel in the central West Bank. Then he stole the soldier's weapon and drove off in a car, according to the Israeli military. Then he shot at people at a bus stop before fleeing from the scene.

In comments at the weekly Cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Mr. Netanyahu said the security forces are persecuting those responsible for the attack at two points in the central West Bank. "I am sure they will arrest them," he said, "and we will deal with them to the fullest extent of the law, as we have done in all recent incidents."

In December, two Israeli soldiers were killed near Ramallah by a Palestinian armed man, just days after another assailant injured a pregnant woman; Her baby died. Another Palestinian gunman killed two Israelis in a factory in the West Bank.

Even before the victim of Sunday's attack was named, the incident became increasingly rougher. In search of support and allegations of corruption, a weakened Mr. Netanyahu pulls out all the stops and signs a deal with a racist anti-Arab party .

On Sunday disqualified the Israeli Supreme Court One of the candidates of this party, Michael Ben Ari, ran out of elections. The judges acted after receiving evidence of incitement of Ben Ari against Palestinians, including the citizens of Israel.

Miri Regev, Minister of Culture and Sports of Mr. Netanyahu's Likud Party, said the attack on Sunday had been the direct result of the incitement of Palestinians; criticized an Arab legislator in the Israeli parliament for refusing to condemn terrorist attacks; and accused the new party, led by Benny Gantz, a former military chief, of wanting to form a parliamentary majority with the Arab legislature.

"This is the weak left, and this is the left that will bring us a sequel to terrorist attacks like these," said Ms. Regev.

Mr. Gantz & # 39; Blue and White Party rejected the criticism. "Never in the history of the state has a minister in Israel exploited the fatalities of those killed in terrorist attacks for political propaganda even before the dead were buried," he said on Twitter We will not answer the honor of the victims at this time. "

Hamas is under increasing pressure due to a crippled economic crisis in Gaza, and in recent days the group has brutally suppressed street demonstrations, civilians who have burnt tires and blocked roads Defeated and arrested the daily hardships of the Palestinian coastal zone.

The United Nations Special Envoy for the Middle East Peace Process N ickolay Mladenov condemned Hamas's actions on Sunday in a statement. He said he was "particularly disturbed by the brutal beatings" of journalists and human rights workers in Gaza and the raiding of homes.

"The long-lived people in the Gaza Strip," Mladenov said, have the right to protest "without fear of reprisal."

There is more potential for violence.

Hamas is preparing for a million demonstrations that begin on March 30, the anniversary of its inception (19459010), often violent protests along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel, killing dozens of Palestinians with Israeli fire were. Domestic pressure could possibly lead Hamas to redirect public anger towards Israel, analysts say.

In addition, an Israeli court on Sunday ordered a temporary closure decision at a controversial site known as Bab al-Rahma, used by Muslims for prayer. It is a frequent hotbed of violence within the sacred complex, which is revered by Muslims such as Haram al-Sharif and by Jews as the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem.


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