One man remained in critical condition Tuesday morning and three more were in moderate condition, hours after a drive-by shooting by a Palestinian assailant near the West Bank settlement of Shvut Rachel, north of Ramallah.
Magen David Adom paramedics told the Walla news site that the victims were in their twenties, and had mostly sustained injuries to their legs.
Malachi Moshe Rosenfeld, who was critically wounded in the attack, is the brother of an Israeli Air Force pilot who died after getting caught in a flash flood near the Tzeelim river in 2002.
Rosenfeld was sitting in the passenger’s seat and according to another of the victims, Yair Hoffer, sustained injuries to his torso and lower body.
Eliezer Rosenfeld, his father, told the press outside of Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center, “We are in a difficult hour. The entire nation of Israel is in a difficult hour.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised that Israel would respond to the terror attack “forcefully” and would see that the perpetrators are brought to justice.
“The attempts to hurt us are not stopping for a moment. The Shin Bet security service and the IDF have thwarted dozens of terror attacks since the start of the year, and more than 200 since the start of 2014,” Netanyahu said during a press conference with the Italian foreign minister.
Netanyahu also called on the Palestinian Authority to denounce the recent wave of terror attacks. “Anyone who doesn’t take an unequivocal stand against terror can never wash his hands clean,” the prime minister said.
Netanyahu added a prayer for “swift and complete recovery for the citizens of Israel injured in last night’s attacks.”
Rosenfeld’s father also asked the country to pray for his son. “Please pray with a full heart that the Holy One grant him a full recovery and save his life,” he said. “We are sure that you will send him the strength to fight and that the doctors will do their duty.”
Hoffer, who was moved to the orthopedic ward for recovery, also requested that people pray for his injured friends, especially Rosenfeld. “We’re hoping that people will pray that it will be okay,” he told Army Radio.
Rosenfeld underwent surgery Monday night and was placed in the intensive care ward for further treatment, a hospital spokesman said.
The other two injured men were sent to Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem for treatment. One was set to undergo surgery Tuesday morning, and the second was to be transferred to the surgical ward later in the day.
The four, all of whom live in the West Bank Settlement of Kochav Hashahar, had been driving near Route 60, the main north-south artery running through the West Bank, when they were attacked.
“We were four friends coming back from a basketball game,” Hoffer, who was shot in both legs, said. “All in all, we played basketball, we had a good time, we joked around on our way back. We were just trying to get home.”
The friends turned onto the interchange near Shvut Rachel, where the car was hit by gunfire.
“I saw the car pull up and that seems to be the moment that they started firing,” Hoffer said.
“They fired the full magazine at us, it seems,” he told Army Radio. “We tried to duck, to cover our heads at least. We were screaming in pain from our injuries and we started yelling at the driver, ‘Go! Go! Go!'”
But, Hoffer explained in the Tuesday morning interview, the gunshots had apparently damaged the car and it came to a stop. They watched as the driver of the shooter’s car appeared to hesitate about whether to continue forward or turn back. Luckily, he said, the terrorists’ automobile kept going.
Friends of the victim, who were in a car a quarter of a mile behind them, quickly came to their aid.
Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner told AFP it was not yet possible to determine whether the shooting was carried out by a lone attacker or small group, or was the work of a larger network. So far, no terrorist organization has claimed responsibility for the shooting.
Following the attack the army deployed a large number of soldiers to search the vicinity for the perpetrators. The nearby settlements of Migdalim, Tapuah, Rachelim and Nofei Nehemia were placed on high-alert status. Troops reportedly set up checkpoints in the area and were inspecting vehicles for possible suspects.
Photos posted on social media showed the victims’ vehicle smeared with blood and riddled with bullet holes.
The head of the Yesha Council, an umbrella movement of Jewish settlers, said the attack “joins a long line of serious terror incidents that began after the start of (the Muslim holy month of) Ramadan.”
Monday night’s attack was the sixth in the past two weeks. The IDF is on particularly high alert due to Ramadan, which usually ushers in a spike in violent incidents.
On June 19 a 25-year-old Israeli man, Danny Gonen, died after being shot near the settlement of Dolev, northwest of Jerusalem.
Last Sunday a Palestinian man stabbed and seriously injured an Israeli Border Police officer outside Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate. The assailant was shot and captured.
On Friday a Palestinian assailant was shot and killed by IDF soldiers after he opened fire on Israeli troops at a checkpoint in the West Bank. No soldiers were injured in the attack.
Times of Israel staff and AFP contributed to this report.