Two Israelis were killed in a terrorist attack near the village of Huwara, south of Nablus, in Samaria on Sunday.
The IDF said a terrorist drove to the Einabus junction and opened fire on a passing Israeli vehicle on Highway 60. The gunfire hit two civilians who were evacuated to the hospital for medical treatment, where they were pronounced dead.
They were subsequently identified as brothers Hallel Menachem and Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, both from the nearby community of Har Bracha.
Israeli forces blocked roads in the area of the attack and initiated a manhunt for the perpetrator.
An initial IDF probe found the gunman took advantage of a traffic jam to carry out the attack.
“On behalf of all citizens of Israel, I send from the bottom of my heart condolences to the Yaniv family from Har Bracha over the murder of Hillel Menachem and Yigal Yaakov—may their memory be for a blessing,” said Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
“Our answer to terrorism is to strike at it with force and to strengthen our hold on our country,” he added.
In response, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant carried out a situation assessment together with top security officials. He instructed the security forces to focus operational and intelligence efforts on apprehending the perpetrator of the shooting while taking all the measures necessary to prevent additional attacks. Gallant also approved the reinforcement of troops in Judea and Samaria for defensive purposes.
Huwara is one of a few Palestinian towns through which Israelis regularly transit to Jewish communities in Samaria.
“Unfortunately, this is not the first time that such a difficult incident has occurred in this frontier area. Every year, we warn about such events in the face of terrorism under [Palestinian Authority chief] Mahmoud Abbas, who incites and dispatches the assailants,” said Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan.
“We are strong and will overcome the barbarians from the P.A. We demand that the government turns the tables. It cannot continue the previous policies of abandoning security and expect any other result. And enough ‘gestures’ [to the P.A.] when Jewish lives are being lost.”
Dagan was referring to reports that Jerusalem will curtail security operations in P.A.-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria, as part of confidence-building measures agreed to during Sunday’s meeting between Israeli and Palestinian officials in Aqaba, Jordan.
The Israeli delegation included National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi and Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) head Ronen Bar, with the Palestinian team being led by P.A. intelligence chief Majed Faraj. The United States was represented by White House Middle East coordinator Brett McGurk, and Egypt also sent representatives.
Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich similarly called to pull the Israeli delegation from the security summit in Aqaba, writing on Twitter: “We don’t speak with terror. We strike at terror.”
Noting that he had driven past the site of the shooting minutes earlier, he called for the Cabinet to convene immediately to approve a new series of counter-terrorism measures.
On Wednesday, 11 Palestinians were reported killed in a gun battle that erupted when Israeli forces came under fire during an arrest operation in Nablus. Israeli forces were attacked by gunmen after surrounding a building in the kasbah/Old City in the center of the P.A.-run city in Samaria in which three terrorists, the targets of the operation, had holed up.
Shortly thereafter, Palestinian terrorists fired six rockets at southern Israel, prompting the IDF to strike a Hamas arms manufacturing facility in central Gaza as well as a military compound in the northern Strip.
Netanyahu on Thursday promised a firm response to Palestinian terrorism.
“We will continue to take strong action on all fronts, near and far, in order to thwart our enemies’ efforts to attack us. Whoever tries to harm us will pay the price,” he said.
Earlier this month, a terrorist attack in Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood claimed the lives of Yaakov Israel Paley, 6, his brother, Asher Menachem Paley, 8, and 20-year-old Alter Shlomo Lederman. Three days later, Israeli soldier St.-Sgt. Asil Sawaed, 22, died from wounds sustained in a terrorist attack at a checkpoint to Shuafat in northeastern Jerusalem.
In late January, seven people were killed and several others were wounded in a terrorist shooting attack at a synagogue in Jerusalem’s Neve Yaakov neighborhood.