Gunfire hits crowded Israeli bus in West Bank; IDF launches manhunt
At least 8 bullets shot from Silwad hit a bus full of passengers on major highway; no injuries
Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.
An Israeli bus came under fire in the central West Bank on Saturday night, law enforcement said, clarifying that no one was injured in the incident.
The shots were fired from the Palestinian town of Silwad at a bus traveling along Route 60, the West Bank’s main north-south highway, near the Ofra settlement, the IDF said in a statement.
The Egged Ta’avura bus was full at the time of the attack and at least eight bullet holes were found on the bus’s windows and body, according to the Binyamin Regional Council.
The driver continued until the nearby Shiloh junction where dispatched troops arrived and launched a manhunt for the shooter or shooters. Medics also rushed to the junction but ultimately were not called on to treat anyone.
As part of the search for the suspects, the army closed off the entrance to Silwad, according to Palestinian media reports.
Binyamin Regional Council chairman Yisrael Gantz said the shooting was part of an ongoing escalation by Palestinian gunmen and demonstrated a “loss of deterrence” on the part of Israeli authorities.
לאחר פיגוע הירי – כוחות צהל הקימו מחסום בכניסה המזרחית לעיר סילוואד pic.twitter.com/O5DTHNfd55
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“We demand immediate, decisive, and deep actions to eradicate terrorism and restore deterrence on the ground,” he added.
The Israeli Bus Drivers Union, which is part of the Histadrut Labor Federation, urged an end to the “violence and terror” against Israeli buses.
“We must not neglect the lives of the drivers and passengers,” the union said in a statement.
The incident came amid escalated tensions in the West Bank, with Israeli security forces stepping up arrest raids and operations following a deadly wave of terror attacks against Israelis that left 19 people dead earlier this year.
Earlier Saturday, three Palestinian women from Nablus with a makeshift submachine gun in their car were arrested Saturday near a checkpoint in the West Bank.
On Friday, an unarmed 58-year-old Palestinian man was shot dead by Israeli troops during an IDF raid in the northern West Bank, the Palestinian health ministry said.
The IDF confirmed it had opened fire during a raid in the town of Tubas, but said it had targeted armed suspects who attacked the troops with gunfire and firebombs.
Footage of Salah Sawafta’s killing did not seem to show that he had been involved in the fighting before he was shot.
“There were clashes with youths in the area and Salah was shot by a sniper in the head after he bought a bag of bread from a grocery store,” his brother told the Associated Press.