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HEBRON: 4 Israelis Shot Dead in West Bank

Israelis killed in West bank shootingHEBRON: 4 Israelis, one of them a pregnant woman, were shot dead near the West Bank Jewish settlement of Kyriat Arba on Tuesday, ahead of renewed peace talks, in what police & the military said was a Palestinian ambush.
Police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld said a automobile in which the victims were travelling came under fire on a road between the settlement & the Palestinian village of Bani Naim, near the city of Hebron.
“Obviously it was a terrorist assault,” they said. Israeli army spokeswoman Avital Leibovitz said he believed the dead were settlers from the area, adding that the road on which they were attacked was used by both Palestinians & Israelis.
He said that lots of rounds were fired in to the Israelis’ vehicle. Rescue services said the victims were a man & woman around 40 years elderly & another man & woman in their twenties. The military said one of the ladies was pregnant.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak called the assault “painful & grave.”
They said they had informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is on his way to Washington for a gathering with Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas to renew direct peace talks after a 20-month hiatus.
“The army & the security forces will do everything they can to lay their hands on the murderers,” Barak said in a statement.
Liebovitz said troops were combing the area in a hunt for clues & suspects. It was the first deadly assault on Israelis in the West Bank since June 14, when a policeman was killed & two others wounded, also in the Hebron area.
In the Gaza Strip, Hamas was speedy to praise the shooting, while not explicitly taking responsibility for it.
“Hamas blesses the Hebron operation & considers it as a traditional reaction to the occupation crime & a proof of the failure…to abort the project of resistance, “Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement.
Briefing journalists by conference call, Leibovitz said he hoped the latest shooting was an isolated event & did not did not herald a new escalation of violence.
“I hope its a pinpoint operation & won’t cause any deterioration in the security situation in the area, which was stable historicallyin the past two years or so,” he said.
Netanyahu has said the latest try to reach a binding peace treaty with the Palestinians must be based on “firm security arrangements” to make sure that future Palestinian rule in the West Bank does not lead to the territory becoming a staging point for assaults on Israelis.
Abbas says that talks will implode unless there is a full halt to Israeli settlement building. -AFP

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