Hamas on Sunday morning praised a fatal shooting attack that took place earlier in the day in the West Bank, calling it “heroic” and “a natural response to the Israeli occupation’s crimes.”
Two people were killed and a third was moderately wounded in the attack at the Barkan Industrial Park in the northern West Bank, which the Israel Defense Forces said was an act of terrorism.
“The Hamas movement and the Palestinian people everywhere praise the heroic operation near the Ariel settlement,” Hamas said in a statement. “We applaud this heroic operation and affirm that it comes as a natural response to the Israeli occupation’s crimes at the expense of the Palestinian people.”
Palestinian Islamic Jihad also spoke highly of the attack, according to the PIJ-linked Palestine Today.
“We praise this operation and affirm that settlements are a legitimate target for resistance fighters and revolutionaries,” Islamic Jihad said in a statement. “We call on our proud people in Jerusalem, the West Bank and elsewhere to rise up in the face of settlement terrorism until the West Bank is liberated from settlements and settlers.”
The suspected assailant was a Palestinian man in his early 20s from the village of Shuweika, near Tulkarem, according to defense sources.
Security forces launched a manhunt for the shooter, who fled the scene after the attack.
“The suspect arrived at the industrial park and shot three civilians. Large numbers of IDF and Shin Bet security service forces have launched a manhunt for the suspect, whose identity is known to security forces. In addition, large numbers of troops have spread out throughout the area to conduct searches and checks,” the army said.
The Israeli military said the shooter did not have any known affiliation with terror groups. The suspect, whose identity was not released by the IDF, posted on his Facebook page earlier in the day that he was “waiting for [Allah].”
He had worked at the Alon Group factory — which manufactures waste management systems — where he committed the attack, had a legal work permit, and was acquainted with his victims, according to spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus.
He had been missing from work in the days before the shooting, but was still employed by the factory, according to the spokesperson, who refuted earlier media reports that he had been fired.
Palestinian media reported road closures and checkpoints throughout the northern West Bank as security forces searched for the suspect.
Security camera video from the scene appeared to show the shooter fleeing after the attack, with an improvised “Carlo” submachine gun in hand.
The businesses in the Barkan Industrial Park, located near the settlement-city of Ariel, employ some 8,000 people, approximately half of them Israelis and the other half Palestinians.
Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.