After a brutal attack on Israeli security forces, the Palestinian Authority quickly condemned the killing of five officers at a bus stop near the illegal Jewish settlement of Beit El in the West Bank.
“Terrorists in Beit El took the lives of five heroes of the resistance and the intelligence services who were sent to protect the civilians of Beit El from the criminal gangs committing attacks that killed our heroes,” the PA statement read, noting that the incident happened on Friday evening, just hours after the PA’s president, Mahmoud Abbas, had attended the weekly prayers at a mosque in Jerusalem.
PA spokesman Maher Abd Rabbo said that the attack demonstrated “the rising sophistication and the dangerous scale of the criminal attacks that are done by Israeli extremists,” Palestinian news agency Ma’an reported. He also said that Israelis could not “move freely in the occupied territories … and demonstrate freely in a non-violent way.”
A senior military official told Ma’an that the “Hamas-affiliated” attackers were from Hebron and attacked two buses and the bus stop with rocks and firebombs. An Israeli military source told the newspaper that “All those killed were attempting to flee.”
The military source also explained that Israel regularly closed off roads in Beit El because of the risk posed by terrorists: “We have closed roads and security threats in Nablus, Jenin, Deir el-Balah, Ramallah and dozens of other places.”
There have been at least two deadly attacks on Israeli security forces in the West Bank in recent weeks: on Aug. 16, a Palestinian shot and killed three soldiers and wounded several others before being shot and killed; and on Aug. 21, four members of a Palestinian militant group stabbed two Israeli soldiers to death, before being shot and killed by police in the West Bank.
Also on Friday, six Palestinians were killed in Nablus, one of them an 8-year-old girl.
It’s not unusual for Palestinian militants to assassinate Israeli soldiers in the West Bank, but it is rare for them to kill so many at one time. Among the most high-profile attacks were the killing of 11 Israeli soldiers at a hitchhiking post in 1997, the targeting of four Israeli ministers in 2002, and the assassination of Shimon Peres in 1994.