A 9-year-old Israeli girl was injured Saturday night in a suspected terrorist attack at the West Bank settlement of Psagot, outside Ramallah. The girl, who was playing in the yard outside her home, said she was shot by a gunman at very close range; confusingly, doctors said later that they had not established whether her wounds were caused by a shooting or a stabbing.
The girl, who did not lose consciousness, was reported in light-to-moderate condition by doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek medical center. It was “not clear” whether she had been shot or stabbed, said Dr. Danny Fink. Security sources said they believed the incident was a nationalist terrorist attack, but were not ruling out other unspecified possibilities.
Israeli forces were reported to enter the neighboring Palestinian town of al-Bireh, where the shooter was thought to have come from. According to Ynet news, forces were searching on the outskirts of the town, near a soccer stadium, and Palestinian security forces had been called in to clear out the area.
The Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported two Palestinians were lightly injured by rubber bullets.
Shortly after the Psagot attack, shots were reportedly fired at a motorcyclist on the road between Psagot and the nearby settlement of Kochav Ya’akov. No injuries were reported, and officials could not immediately confirm the accuracy of the report. A police official also said rocks were thrown at vehicles on the road leading into Psagot after the child was shot.
Initially, it was suspected the girl was shot by a sniper from al-Bireh. Arabic media reported IDF fire in the village and helicopters flying overhead.
But authorities also investigated the possibility that a gunman may have infiltrated the settlement, north of Jerusalem, and that he could still be on the loose there. “It is most likely that a terrorist infiltrated,” said Psagot’s spokesman David Tsviel, adding that a breach had been discovered in the settlement’s perimeter fence.
Psagot residents were told to stay in their homes past midnight Saturday; those with firearms were instructed to keep them by their side. Soldiers conducted a house-to-house search of the settlement. Residents were informed via text message to anticipate a knock on the door, to answer in Hebrew, and to await identification.
Sirens sounded in the settlement shortly after the gunfire was first reported, and security forces converged on the area. Magen David Adom paramedics performed first aid on the victim and rushed her to Shaare Zedek. She was in serious but stable condition when admitted to the hospital’s trauma ward.
MDA medic Shlomo Petrover, the girl’s neighbor, told Ynet that the injured girl said she saw the shooter, who wore a stocking cap.
Police, Border Police and IDF forces flooded the settlement of 2,000 residents, and were investigating the incident. Police Spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld tweeted that authorities suspected the incident was a terrorist attack:
Strong possibility of terrorist attack in Binyamin area after 9 yrs old girl was shot while playing outside. Security units searching area
— Micky Rosenfeld (@MickyRosenfeld) October 5, 2013
A Psagot resident who spoke to The Times of Israel said that residents were instructed to remain in their homes because a terrorist was believed to be on the loose in the settlement.
Saturday night’s incident came two weeks after an IDF soldier was shot and killed while on duty in the West Bank city of Hebron by an unidentified shooter. The culprit remains at large despite investigations by Israeli authorities. Another soldier, off duty, was killed near the West Bank town of Qalqilya that same weekend.