As the hunt for the terrorists behind the shooting attack in the West Bank that left an Israeli civilian dead entered its third day, two Palestinians were killed in clashes with troops on Thursday.
On the Gaza Strip border area, Amir Abd Abu Musaid, 16, died after being shot in the chest, while three others were critically wounded, the official Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported.
In Burin, a village in the West Bank, Ali Amr Nimr Qeeno, 16, died after being hit by live fire, Wafa reported.
According to the IDF, dozens of Palestinians threw rocks at troops in Kfar Tel, near Nablus. The soldiers were conducting searches in connection to Tuesday’s shooting attack near Havat Gilad in which Rabbi Raziel Shevach was killed. Soldiers opened fire on the main instigators of the clashes, the IDF said. One Palestinian was killed, and four were wounded, it said.
Following Tuesday’s drive-by attack, the IDF is keeping up the pressure around Nablus and the surrounding villages to find the killers.
“Security forces continued their operational activity following Tuesday’s shooting attack near Havat Gilad in which Rabbi Raziel Shevach was murdered,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said.
“Troops from the Samaria Regional Brigade, with the assistance of special forces, conducted a number of searches in the area to locate the terrorists in parallel to the ongoing investigation and intelligence activity,” it said, adding that soldiers manned checkpoints at the entrances to Nablus and surrounding villages and “continued their activities on the roads and in the settlements to maintain the security of the residents of the area.”
On Tuesday night, Shevach was driving home on Route 60 when terrorists shot at least 22 bullets at his car and escaped. Shevach, the father of six children, was rushed to Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba in critical condition and was pronounced dead shortly afterward.
He was buried in Havat Gilad on Wednesday.
While no one has claimed responsibility for the attack, Izzadin Kassam, the military wing of Hamas, praised it as being “heroic” and a sign of future attacks.
“The Nablus operation is the first practical response with fire to remind the enemy’s leaders and those who support them that what you fear is coming,” Izzadin Kassam spokesman Abu Obeida said.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in statement posted on the Islamist group’s official website on Tuesday that the attack was a result of the crimes of the “Zionist occupation.”
“Hamas blesses the heroic Nablus operation that comes as a result of the Zionist occupation’s violations and crimes at the expense of our people in the West Bank, Jerusalem and al-Aksa Mosque,” he said.
Since October 2015, Palestinians have stabbed, run over and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, including some tourists, in a wave of violence on both sides of the Green Line.
While there was a significant drop in terrorist attacks over the past year, 20 Israelis were killed and 169 wounded in 99 attacks in 2017, up from 17 killed and 263 wounded in 269 attacks originating in the West Bank last year.
According to statistics released by the Shin Bet on Thursday, the number of violent attacks on both sides of the Green Line tripled last month, from 84 in November to 249 in December.
The Shin Bet said there was a significant increase in the number of attacks in the West Bank, from 53 to 178. There was also an increase of attacks from the Gaza Strip, from one to 15, and in Jerusalem, from 29 to 56.
The vast majority, 219, were firebombings, and the others included stabbings, shootings, improvised explosives and rocket and mortar barrages from the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.
Within Green Line Israel, there was a decrease from one attack to none.
Adam Rasgon contributed to this report.