After a shooting attack in the Jordan Valley left seven injured on Sunday, Defense Minister Benny Gantz vowed to “continue to increase” Israeli anti-terror activities in the West Bank, while Prime Minister Yair Lapid said security forces will “continue to reach anyone” who threatens the lives of Israeli citizens.
The military said Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a bus carrying Israeli soldiers on a major highway in the Jordan Valley, near the settlement of Hamra. One soldier was seriously wounded, and another five soldiers and the bus’s civilian driver were lightly hurt.
Two Palestinian suspects were arrested hours after the attack, which came amid rising violence in the West Bank.
In a tweet, Gantz said: “Security forces began pursuing the suspects immediately and got their hands on the suspected attackers in a quick and professional operation. We will continue to increase our focused operations against terror in the Judea and Samaria area.” He was using the biblical name for the West Bank commonly used in Hebrew.
Lapid, like Gantz, wished the wounded a speedy recovery. He offered praise to the “first responders and the security forces who acted with speed and determination to treat the wounded and catch the suspected terrorists.”
“We will continue to reach anyone who tries to harm the citizens and soldiers of the State of Israel,” he tweeted.
President Isaac Herzog, who is on an official state visit to Berlin, noted alongside his German counterpart on Sunday that “terror does not rest for a second, and today it reared its head again, alas, when a few hours ago, depraved terrorists perpetrated an attack against Israelis traveling by bus.”
Speaking next to German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Herzog said that Israel “will not accept any attack on our citizens or soldiers. The State of Israel will defend its citizens, and the IDF and our security forces will act at any place and at any time.”
Gaza-based terror organization Hamas labeled the “Zionist bus” attack a “heroic operation,” saying that it was a “natural response to the crimes of the occupation.” Hamas did not claim responsibility for the attack.
Opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu said he was praying for the recovery of the injured, adding, “Only through a strong hand can we defeat terrorism.”
According to local officials, the gunmen tailed the bus before overtaking it and opening fire from the front. They then attempted to pour flammable liquid on the bus and set it on fire, before fleeing.
The getaway car caught fire as it sped away, likely as a result of the flammable liquid used in the attack. IDF forces arrested two suspects, both of whom were said to be hurt.
The pair were taken to be questioned by the Shin Bet security agency. They were named by Palestinian media as Muhammed and Walid Turkman, apparent relatives, from the Jenin area in the northern West Bank. Several firearms were found at the scene of the arrest.
A third suspect apparently fled, according to Hebrew-language media reports. The IDF said troops continued to search the area for additional suspects.
Tensions have escalated in the West Bank recently, with Israeli security forces stepping up arrest raids and operations following a deadly wave of terror attacks that left 19 people dead earlier this year.
Emanuel Fabian contributed to this report.