Palestinian gunmen affiliated with the Hamas terror group opened fire at a gas station in the West Bank on Tuesday afternoon, killing four Israelis and wounding four others, the military and medics said.
According to the Israel Defense Forces, two gunmen carried out the terror attack at the gas station and an adjacent hummus restaurant near the settlement of Eli.
One of the terrorists was shot dead at the scene by an armed Israeli civilian, while the second fled and was killed some two hours later by special forces.
According to the Magen David Adom ambulance service, eight Israelis were treated at the scene of the attack. Four were declared dead at the scene, and four were taken to hospitals in Israel.
One of the victims was listed in serious condition, two were in moderate condition, and the fourth was in good condition, MDA said.
A suspected infiltration alert sounded in Eli following the attack. The military ordered residents of the community to remain in their homes and lock their doors and windows as troops scanned the area. The order was lifted around an hour and a half later.
According to the army’s initial investigation of the attack, the two gunmen arrived at the gas station by car and first opened fire with assault rifles at diners in the adjacent Hummus Eliyahu restaurant, after which the terrorists targeted motorists at the gas station itself.
An armed civilian shot dead one of the terrorists, while the second terrorist stole a running vehicle from one of the victims and fled the area.
Several knives were found in the car the terrorists arrived in, according to local security officials.
The four victims were named by Tuesday night as Harel Masood, 21, from the central town of Yad Binyamin, Elisha Anteman, 17, from Eli, and Ofer Fayerman, 64, also from Eli, and Shmuel Mordoff, 17, from the Ahiya settlement.
The terrorist shot dead at the scene was named as Muhannad Faleh, 26, from the village of Urif in the Nablus area, according to Palestinian media outlets and images circulating online showing his ID card.
Some two hours later, the Shin Bet security agency said Israeli forces located and killed the second Palestinian gunman who fled the scene.
Shin Bet officers and members of the elite Yamam counterterrorism police unit found the car that the terrorist stole from the gas station abandoned near the Palestinian town of Tubas, and found an assault rifle used in the attack.
A short while later, the suspect was located in a taxi inside Tubas, and was shot by the special forces.
“During the arrest attempt, the suspect tried to escape from the vehicle, and was shot and neutralized by the forces,” the agency said.
The Palestinian Authority health ministry said the man had been killed. He was named by media reports as Khaled Mustafa Sabah, also from Urif.
Hamas claimed Faleh and Sabah as members but stopped short of claiming responsibility for the attack.
“The operation south of Nablus is a clear message to the criminal occupation government,” the terror group said, adding in a separate statement that it came “in response to its crimes against the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque and its aggression against Nablus and Jenin.”
منفذا عــمــلــية مستوطنة (عيلي) هما: مهند فالح شحادة، وخالد مصطفى صباح، وارتقيا برصاص الاحتلال، وكلاهما من قرية عوريف جنوب نابلس pic.twitter.com/kmRRhW4Rwz
— حسن اصليح | Hassan (@hassaneslayeh) June 20, 2023
Military chief Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi toured the scene of the attack later in the day, and held an assessment with senior officers.
IDF spokesman Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari said the chief of staff instructed to bolster the area with more forces, carry out arrest operations in the area, and advance the demolition of homes of Palestinian terrorists accused of carrying out deadly attacks.
The IDF in a later statement said it would be bolstering the West Bank with several additional battalions. Police also said it would deploy additional cops to “sensitive areas, junctions, and crowded areas” in the West Bank.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians have been elevated for the past year, with the military carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank, amid a series of deadly Palestinian terror attacks.
On Monday, six Palestinians were killed and nearly 100 were wounded in gun battles in Jenin in the northern West Bank. Eight IDF soldiers sustained light-to-moderate injuries in the clashes and as a result of a massive roadside bomb that was detonated next to an army vehicle.
Since the beginning of the year, Palestinian attacks in Israel and the West Bank have killed 24 people and left several more seriously hurt, including Tuesday’s attack.
According to a tally by The Times of Israel, 126 West Bank Palestinians have been killed during that span, most of them during clashes with security forces, but some were uninvolved civilians and others were killed under unclear circumstances.