A Palestinian man who shot dead an Israeli settler at a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron has been killed by a security guard, according to medics and local media reports.
The shooting at the checkpoint near the Kiryat Arba settlement, where a group of predominantly right-wing Israeli settlers live, comes days before Israel holds its fifth election in less than four years and as violence surges in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli newspaper Haaretz identified the Israeli victim as 49-year-old Ronen Hanania while Palestinian media reported that Mohammad al-Jaabari, a 35-year-old Hebron resident, was killed in the fatal shooting.
The Hamas group, which rules the Gaza Strip, claimed the slain Hebron gunman as its member.
Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency response service initially reported five wounded, including a 49-year-old Israeli man left “unconscious with an injury to his upper body”.
A spokesperson for Jerusalem’s Hadassah Medical Center told the AFP news agency that the man later died of his wounds.
The other Israelis suffered less severe injuries, the MDA said. A man Palestinian, who was also wounded in the shooting, was being treated at a Hebron area hospital, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
Israel’s army said “a terrorist shot live fire” near a checkpoint in Hebron, an occupied West Bank city where a community of hardline Jewish settlers lives.
“Soldiers are conducting searches in the area” for additional suspects, the army said.
At least three Palestinians, including al-Jaabari’s brother, were arrested from Hebron, according to the Maan news agency.
Far-right Israeli MP Itamar Ben-Gvir, whose Religious Zionism alliance is eyeing major gains in elections on Tuesday, claimed on Twitter that his Hebron home was the target.
Israel’s security forces have not confirmed the allegation and Israeli media, citing security sources, reported that Ben-Gvir’s home in a Hebron settlement was not targeted.
‘Spiral’ of bloodshed
The United Nations envoy for Middle East peace, Tor Wennesland, warned on Friday that the occupied West Bank was “caught in a downward spiral” of bloodshed. This year is on track to be the deadliest in the territory in more than a decade.
More than 100 Palestinians, including fighters and attackers but also civilians, have been killed across the occupied West Bank as Israel has conducted near-daily raids.
The raids intensified following a spate of attacks on Israelis that began in March.
Israeli operations have primarily been concentrated in the northern occupied West Bank, while Hebron in the south has seen less unrest.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid tweeted on Saturday that he was “praying” for those wounded in Kiryat Arba.
“Terrorism will not defeat us,” said Lapid, who is currently serving as caretaker premier but is hoping to secure an independent mandate in Tuesday’s vote.
About 475,000 Jewish settlers currently live in the occupied West Bank, in settlements considered illegal by international law, alongside some 2.9 million Palestinians.