Israeli candidates spar over increasing tensions in West Bank, Gaza


Earlier this month, Palestinians rammed a vehicle into a group of Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, with two attackers killed and one injured in fire opened by the Israeli military.

Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said the attacker stabbed an Israeli soldier at the entrance to the Ariel settlement, southwest of the Palestinian city of Nablus, and then took his assault rifle.

He then hijacked a vehicle, driving it to another nearby junction where he shot a second soldier before continuing on to a nearby Palestinian village.

The army said a second Israeli soldier was in a serious condition in hospital with bullet wounds.

An Israeli rabbi has become the second person to die as a result of an attack by a Palestinian man in the occupied West Bank.

Ettinger, 47 from the community of Eli in Samaria, was the father of 12 children.

Speaking at the scene of the attack, Netanyahu explained Monday that Israeli forces were closing in on the perpetrator.

In an apparent attempt to portray the Palestinian Authority (PA) as opposing terror attacks on Israelis, a pro-Hamas website called Palestine Now claimed that official PA spokesman Adnan Al-Damiri characterized as "criminal" the attack launched on Sunday in Ariel that claimed the lives of two Israelis.

Israeli troops went house to house overnight in search of the assailant, identified as a 19-year-old Palestinian with no known affiliation with a militant organization.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the site of the attack on Monday and pledged tough action, including the demolition of the assailant's home.

"We know the identity of the attacker", says Netanyahu.

The Israeli army reportedly chose to increase "security" restrictions imposed on checkpoints across the occupied West Bank.

"Hamas bears responsibility for any attack from the Gaza Strip whether it's intentional or by mistake", he said.

Responding on Twitter, Gantz's Kahol Lavan party condemned Regev for her comments, saying "Never in the history of the state has it happened that a minister in Israel has exploited the deaths of those killed in terror attacks for political propaganda even before the funerals of the dead".

The IDF also arrested eight other Palestinians suspected of involvement in terrorist activities and disturbing the public against civilians and security forces.

Hamas is desperate to divert attention to the economic protests that have rocked Gaza in recent days, which have seen Palestinians direct their growing frustration against their own Islamist regime.

Palestinian gun, knife or car-ramming attacks against Israeli settlers and soldiers occur sporadically in the West Bank.