Two Israelis killed in occupied West Bank attack

A Palestinian gunman has killed two Israelis in their car in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli government said.

A joint statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir on Sunday said “two Israeli civilians were killed in a Palestinian terror attack” in an incident near the city of Nablus in the north of the occupied territory.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack, which came as Israeli and Palestinian security officials met in Jordan to discuss ways of lowering tensions.

Medics said the casualties near Hawara, an area that sees regular friction between Palestinians and settlers, were men in their 20s.

A settlements spokesperson said they were residents of Har Bracha, a settlement 8 km (5 miles) away from the scene of the attack.

Israel looks for suspect

Al Jazeera’s Sara Khairat, reporting from West Jerusalem, said Israeli forces were searching for the attacker.

“Israeli security forces closed down some of the checkpoints and they are still looking for the person who carried this [attack] out,” she said.

Israel’s defense minister called for beefing up the military presence in the occupied West Bank.

An Israeli ministerial committee also gave initial approval to a proposal that would impose the death penalty on Palestinians involved in deadly attacks. The measure was sent to lawmakers for further debate.

“On a difficult day in which two Israelis were murdered in a Palestinian terror attack, there is nothing more symbolic that passing the death penalty law on terrorists,” said Itamar Ben Gvir, Israel’s far-right national security minister and West Bank settler.

Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, another settler leader, called for “striking the cities of terror and its instigators without mercy, with tanks and helicopters, in a way that conveys that the master of the house has gone crazy”.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad heralded Sunday’s shooting in Huwara as a “heroic operation”.

“It sends a strong message to the Aqaba summit that our (Palestinian) resistance is present,” said Islamic Jihad, which had joined Hamas and other Palestinian groups in opposing the Jordan talks.

Sunday’s shooting attack comes amid rising tensions across the occupied West Bank following an Israeli military raid in Nablus in which 11 Palestinians were killed on Wednesday.

According to Palestinian figures, at least 65 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the start of this year.

On Sunday, Israeli and Palestinian representatives were holding talks in Jordan, according to the state media in the kingdom, in a “political-security” meeting aiming to restore calm after deadly violence.

Jordanian state broadcaster Al-Mamlaka said the meeting, which kicked off in the Red Sea resort of Aqaba, was “the first of its kind in years between Palestinians and Israelis with regional and international participation” and would address “the situation in the Palestinian territories”.

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