IDF hunts Palestinian gunmen, raids PA’s official Wafa news agency in Ramallah

Clashes break out a few hundred meters away from Abbas’s house after large number of Israeli troops enter West Bank city

Israeli soldiers deploy during clashes in the West Bank city of Ramallah following a raid on December 10, 2018, one day after a drive-by terror shooting attack next to an Israeli settlement. (Abbas Momani/AFP)
Israeli soldiers deploy during clashes in the West Bank city of Ramallah following a raid on December 10, 2018, one day after a drive-by terror shooting attack next to an Israeli settlement. (Abbas Momani/AFP)

As the IDF’s hunt after the Palestinian terrorists in a drive-by shooting in the central West Bank approached its 24th hour, troops raided the Ramallah offices of the official Palestinian news agency, the agency and witnesses said Monday.

Seven Israeli civilians were wounded in the attack Sunday evening at a bus stop near the Ofra settlement, with doctors forced to prematurely deliver the baby of one of the wounded.

Israeli soldiers entered Ramallah on Monday morning, with low-level clashes breaking out a few hundred meters from the house of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

They seized the security camera footage of a nearby building, according to employees of the news agency.

Two people were hit with live bullets during the clashes, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Later, soldiers raided the headquarters of Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, including the photography and editing offices, a statement from the news agency said.

An army spokeswoman said she could not comment on the Ramallah raid, including whether it was part of the hunt for the gunmen from Sunday night’s incident.

A Palestinian Authority official condemned the raid. Speaking to Palestine TV, Ahmad Assaf, the PA official responsible for overseeing government-run Palestinian media, called it a “crime” and vowed that it would not dissuade him and his colleagues from “exposing the occupation’s crimes.”

Assaf also asserted that the Palestinians would follow up in international institutions and organizations in order to hold Israel to account for the raid.

Baby fighting for his life

Earlier Monday, doctors at Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem delivered via a Cesarean section the baby of one victim of the shooting, who was 30 weeks pregnant, the hospital said.

Israeli security and medical personnel evacuate the injured after Ofra shooting attack, at Shaarei Tzedek Hospital in Jerusalem, December 9, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The hospital added that the mother, 21, was stable but the baby boy’s condition had taken a turn for the worse.

“There has unfortunately been a deterioration in the baby’s condition. The family is requesting prayers for him,” a hospital spokeswoman said.

The others wounded in the attack were not in life-threatening condition.

In security camera video of the shooting, posted to social media, a white car is seen slowing down near the bus stop, after which bullets can be seen striking the crowd who scramble for cover.

The car, which comes to a stop for a few moments while the shooting apparently continues, then speeds off down the road as IDF soldiers are seen running to the bus stop.

After the attack, the Israel Defense Forces quickly launched a search for the gunmen, shutting down roads and establishing temporary checkpoints on the surrounding highways on Sunday night.

During the searches, Israeli troops entered the town of Silwad, outside Ramallah and just north of Ofra, late Sunday night, according to the PA’s Wafa news outlet.

In Silwad, local residents clashed with the Israeli troops, throwing rocks and other objects at the military vehicles. In response, the soldiers fired tear gas and other less-lethal riot dispersal weapons at the rioters, according to Wafa.

The northern entrance to al-Bireh, a town adjacent to Ramallah, was also closed in both directions on Sunday night, Wafa reported.

Hamas praises shooting

The army said on Monday morning that the perpetrators had so far not been located.

“IDF, border police and security forces commenced extensive searches in the villages in the area as part of the hunt for the terrorists who committed the attack,” a statement on Monday said. “The IDF will continue to operate to apprehend the terrorists and ensure the security of civilians.”

Israeli soldiers search for gunmen who opened fire at a bus stop outside the West Bank settlement of Ofra, injuring seven people, on December 9, 2018. (Israel Defense Forces)

The Islamist Hamas movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, praised the attack, saying in a statement that it proved “resistance” was still alive in the West Bank.

Palestinian attacks against Israelis occur sporadically in the West Bank.

On November 26, a Palestinian rammed Israeli soldiers with a car and injured three of them. The assailant in that incident was killed at the scene by Israeli forces.

Sunday’s shooting north of Jerusalem was the most serious attack in the West Bank since October 7, when Palestinian terrorist Ashraf Naalwa shot Israelis Kim Levengrond Yehezkel and Ziv Hajbi dead in an industrial zone for a nearby settlement. He has since evaded capture.

Jacob Magid contributed to this report.

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