Hamas claimed responsibility on Monday evening for the shooting that killed an Israeli security guard at the entrance to the city of Ariel in Judea and Samaria last week. The terrorist group said the attack was retaliation for Israeli actions on the Temple Mount.

It was the first time since 2018 that Hamas has claimed an attack targeting Israelis in Judea and Samaria.

Friday evening’s attack was the latest in a long string of violent incidents in recent weeks. Tensions have mounted after deadly attacks on Israelis by Palestinian terrorists and clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police on the Temple Mount.

“This is an episode in a series of responses by [the Izzadin] Al-Qassam Brigades [the armed wing of Hamas] to the aggression on Al Aqsa mosque,” the terror group said in a statement.

“The fighters of the Al-Qassam Brigades in the West Bank still have the ‘sword of Jerusalem’ drawn for all Palestinian fighters everywhere,” the statement continued, referring to the 11 day conflict with Hamas that erupted in May last year in which more than 4,000 rockets were fired at Israel. The conflict, called “Operation Guardian of the Walls” by Israel, was dubbed “Sword of Jerusalem” by Hamas.

The claim of responsibility essentially signals that Hamas is now willing to assume greater risks, posing a new challenge to Israel.

One of the reasons Hamas has thus far avoided such claims of responsibility was its desire to keep Gaza out of the fight in Judea and Samaria, with the group’s leaders preferring not to give Israel an “excuse” to attack the coastal enclave in response to attacks in Judea and Samaria.

Israel said Saturday that it had arrested two Palestinians suspected of carrying out the shooting that killed 23-year-old Vyacheslav Golev.

On Sunday, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar called for more attacks against Israelis in Judea and Samaria, saying the “real battle arena is there.” In a speech, Sinwar saluted the terrorists who killed the guard.

This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.

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