Army seals off two villages in manhunt for West Bank shooter
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Army seals off two villages in manhunt for West Bank shooter

Soldiers close off Sa’ir and al-Aroub as they search for terrorist who opened fire at car, injuring an Israeli man; 8 Palestinians arrested in sweeps

File: Israeli soldiers block the exit to the settlement of Efrat following a shooting attack in the area on July 9, 2016. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)
File: Israeli soldiers block the exit to the settlement of Efrat following a shooting attack in the area on July 9, 2016. (Gershon Elinson/Flash90)

The military on Sunday morning was keeping two West Bank villages under closure as a troops searched for a shooter who opened fire at an Israeli car in the area the night before, injuring one person.

The Israeli man, who has not been identified by officials, suffered light to moderate injuries and remained hospitalized in Jerusalem Sunday morning after the attack, which occurred on a road in the Etzion settlement bloc southeast of Jerusalem.

The terrorist fled the scene and the army subsequently sealed off the nearby towns of Sa’ir and Al-Aroub as troops searched for the gunner.

The army overnight Saturday-Sunday arrested eight Palestinians in the West Bank suspected of involvement in riots and attacks on Israeli civilians and soldiers, but were still searching for the attacker.

Palestinian media reported on Saturday night that following the closure, clashes broke out between IDF soldiers and residents in Sa’ir after soldiers imposed the closure, which involves surrounding the town and checking anyone leaving or entering.

The shooting victim, a man in his 30s, received initial treatment on the scene before being taken by military ambulance to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem for further care, the Magen David Adom rescue service said. He suffered a gunshot wound to the shin, according to a spokesperson for the hospital.

“Multiple bullet holes were identified on the vehicle,” the army said.

The man’s wife and five children were in the vehicle with him during the shooting, a spokesperson for the Etzion bloc said.

The shooting attack took place south of what’s known as the “T” junction on the highway connecting the east and west sides of the Etzion settlement bloc.

The attack was original reported as taking place near Tekoa, but local officials later clarified it took place between the small settlement of Metzad and the “T” junction.

Area roads were briefly closed off following the attack, which followed a similar incident in the same area two months ago.

An armored Israeli bus came under Palestinian fire on May 21, 2016 near the Tekoa settlement in the West Bank. No injuries were reported. (Courtesy)
An armored Israeli bus came under Palestinian fire on May 21, 2016, near the Tekoa settlement in the West Bank. No injuries were reported. (Courtesy)

On May 21, a bus with bulletproof plating came under fire in the same area. There were no injuries, and Israeli officials have not said if the gunman was arrested.

Officials said that attack appeared to have come from a passing vehicle.

Davidi Perl, head of the Etzion bloc regional council, released a statement following Saturday night’s shooting, calling for government action.

“Enough! The ‘Lone Wolf Intifada’ has come out of its recess and returned with guns. The prime minister and defense minister need to make a dramatic change on the ground. We must return the security to the citizens of the State of Israel,” Perl said in a statement, refering to an uptick in attacks in recent weeks following a several-month lull.

The attack Saturday comes just over a week after the brutal killing of 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron. Ariel was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist while she was sleeping in her bedroom.

A day later, Rabbi Miki Mark, a yeshiva head from the settlement of Otniel, was killed in a drive-by shooting by Palestinian terrorists while driving on Route 60 with his family. Mark’s wife was seriously injured and two of his children were wounded in the shooting attack which caused the family’s car to overturn.

This past week also saw a number of attempted attacks on troops. On Wednesday, three IDF soldiers were lightly injured in a car-ramming attack near the Neve Daniel settlement outside of Bethlehem, the army said.

On Tuesday, Israeli soldiers shot and injured a Palestinian woman as she attempted to stab one of them at a bus stop near the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

Since October 2015, 35 Israelis and four others have been killed and hundreds more injured in the wave of Palestinian attacks, though the violence had dramatically waned of late. More than 200 Palestinians have also been killed, some two-thirds of them while carrying out attacks and the rest in clashes with troops, Israeli officials say.

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