Gunman hid among workers before killing three Israeli security men
A Palestinian gunman yesterday killed three Israeli security men and critically wounded a fourth outside a West Bank settlement before being shot dead, in one of the deadliest attacks of a two-year spate of violence.
Israeli officials said the attacker was a 37-year-old father-of-four, with a valid work permit in Israel and a troubled personal life, who appeared to have acted alone.
The attack comes at a tense period amid the Jewish high holidays and is likely to complicate the mediation efforts of US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who just arrived in the region for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
Speaking at his weekly cabinet meeting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the attack was partially a result of systematic Palestinian incitement and said he expected Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to "condemn this attack and not try to justify it".
Luba Samri, a police spokeswoman, said the attacker approached the back gate entrance of the Har Adar settlement, hiding among dozens of Palestinian day labourers who were being checked by security forces. When police asked him to stop, he opened fire at close range before being shot dead by security forces, Ms Samri said.
The casualties were identified as Solomon Gavria, a 20-year-old policeman, and two private security guards - Yousef Othman and Or Arish, who were both 25. The Magen David Adom medical service said a fourth Israeli man, in his early 30s, was hospitalised in a critical condition.
Dr Alon Pikarsky, head of surgery at Hadassah Medical Centre in Jerusalem, later said the man was in a stable condition after undergoing surgery to remove two bullets.
Har Adar is an upscale community west of Jerusalem, and known for its good relations with its Arab neighbours - an unusual target in the wave of violence that Israel has been coping with over the past two years.
Shay Retter, head of Har Adar's security committee, said 100 to 150 Palestinian labourers enter the community every day for work. Local residents said they knew the attacker from previous work he had done.
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he saw no difference between Palestinian terrorism and radical Islamic terrorism targeting sites in Europe and elsewhere.