JERUSALEM (AP) — Palestinian gunmen shot and killed an Israeli man on Tuesday near the entrance to a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli army said.
The Israeli military said the man was shot near the settlement of Hermesh, in the northern West Bank. Local officials identified the man as Meir Tamari, a 32-year-old resident of the settlement.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his condolences to the family and said forces were pursuing the gunmen “ in order to settle accounts with them.” Dimiter Tzantchev, the European Union’s ambassador to Israel, condemned the attack, calling it a “cowardly and brutal act of violence.”
The incident came a day after Jewish settlers erected a religious seminary in a nearby dismantled settlement outpost and was the latest in more than a year-long surge of violence that has wracked the West Bank. During that time, Israel has expanded near-nightly military raids throughout the area in response to an increase in Palestinian attacks.
The fighting has picked up since Israel’s new far-right government took office in late December. At least 117 Palestinians have been killed in the West Bank and east Jerusalem this year, with nearly half of them members of armed militant groups, according to an Associated Press tally. But stone-throwing youths and people uninvolved in violence have also been killed. The Israeli army said the number of Palestinian militants killed is much higher.
Meanwhile, Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis in those areas have killed at least 21 people.
Israel captured the West Bank and east Jerusalem, along with the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. Palestinians seek these territories for a future state.
Some 700,000 Israelis now live in settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Most of the international community considers these settlements illegal or obstacles to peace.
The new Israeli government includes several prominent settler leaders in top positions. It has made the expansion of the settlements a top priority.
On Monday, Jewish settlers erected a religious school in a dismantled outpost in the northern West Bank after Israel’s government lifted a ban on settlements in several areas evacuated as part of Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip. In March, Israel repealed the act that barred Israelis from entering the areas.