Security forces find bullets at scene of suspected West Bank shooting attack

Military searching for perpetrators, as tensions run high in area outside Ofra where terrorism claimed the lives of three Israelis last week

Screen capture from video of a shooting incident at the Ofra junction in the West Bank, December 20, 2018. (Facebook)
Screen capture from video of a shooting incident at the Ofra junction in the West Bank, December 20, 2018. (Facebook)

Bullets were found by security forces near a bus stop outside the Ofra settlement in the central West Bank Friday morning, the military announced, a day after a suspected shooting attack there.

Soldiers were still searching for the shooters, who opened fire at the bus stop Thursday night, apparently from the nearby Palestinian village of Ein Yabrud. There were no injuries.

The incident came as tensions ran high following two shootings in the area last week that claimed the lives of two Israeli soldiers and a baby, and amid a general increase in violence in the West Bank.

Soldiers at the scene fired at the source of the gunfire, the military said.

Hadashot TV news reported that there several people were standing at the bus stop at the time. An eyewitness said that as soon as the shots rang out, the civilians dove to the ground behind the soldiers.

The Israel Defense Forces also announced Friday morning that it had mapped out the homes of the suspects who carried out last week’s shooting attacks outside Ofra and the nearby outpost of Givat Assaf, in preparation for their demolition.

Several Israelis were injured in the December 9 attack at the Ofra Junction, including a seven-months pregnant woman, whose baby — delivered in emergency surgery by doctors hours after the attack — died four days later.

Two Israeli soldiers were killed and another was critically injured in the Givat Assaf attack four days later.

An Israeli defense official said Thursday that the Palestinian man suspected of carrying out the terror attack near Givat Assaf is Asem Barghouti, the brother of Salih Barghouti, who was suspected of having carried out the attack near Ofra.

Salih was shot dead on December 12 in a village near Ramallah as he attacked Israeli security forces in an attempt to evade arrest, the Shin Bet security service said.

The attackers from the Givat Assaf shooting are still at large.

Separately on Thursday evening, IDF soldiers opened fire on a Palestinian car that ran through a West Bank roadblock, killing one of its occupants.

The car broke through the so-called Focus checkpoint, the military said in a statement, and IDF soldiers manning the position opened fire on the vehicle, killing one of the people inside and injuring another.

The Palestinian health ministry confirmed one man was killed. Palestinian media named him as Qassem Abassi, 17, from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

The IDF said it was investigating both that incident and the shooting outside Ofra and that troops had set up roadblocks in the area.

Beyond the checkpoint is a road used by Palestinians from al-Bireh and Ramallah to its south, and settlers from Beit El to its north, to reach Route 60. The Ofra junction lies farther along the same road.

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