Several more soldiers were wounded in the drive-by shooting as they enforced an occupation of the Palestinian village of Ein Yabrud near the Israeli settlement of Ofra.

In a statement, the Brigade said the attack was in response to “Zionist massacres against our people” and Israeli raids in southern Gaza in which 15 Palestinians had been killed in the past week.

“There will be more operations against occupation soldiers until they leave our land,” the group said.

Within an hour of the attack more soldiers entered the village and began searching for the fighters.

Medical sources confirmed that three critically wounded had died, while up to three more were injured.

Village curfew

The Palestinian village was placed under curfew as soldiers searched house-to-house for the attackers, backed by helicopter gunships overhead, witnesses said.

In other conflict on Sunday, Israeli soldiers wounded an 18-year old Palestinian in the West Bank town of Jenin when they opened fire on a group of stone-throwers, Palestinian medics said.

Israeli occupation troops also have pressed on with searches in a refugee camp in southern Gaza’s Rafah district for tunnels which Israel claims are used to smuggle weapons in from Egypt.

Reservist call-up

At the same time, Israel called up several hundred reserve soldiers to serve in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, because of fears of a new wave of Palestinian resistance attacks.

An Israeli military source said there would be five battalions of reserve soldiers. Asked about the call-up, Israeli army spokeswoman Ruth Yaron told Israel Radio: “We are facing another wave of terror”.

Israel has called upon five
battalions of reserve soldiers

“Unfortunately, due to budget cuts…when we currently face a wave of alerts and attacks, we are forced to recruit reserve troops on too short notice,” she said.

She did not say how many reserves had been called up, but military sources put the number at several hundred.

Israeli society is highly militarised with all citizens, barring a few exceptions, obliged to serve in the armed forces.

Palestinian criticism

Chief Palestinian negotiator, Saib Uraikat, criticised the Israeli move.

“These actions are consistent with the daily escalation by the Israeli army. It’s an indication that the Israeli government will continue its aggression, incursions and curfews and this won’t lead us anywhere,” he said.