Israeli settler killed in West Bank shooting: medics



JERUSALEM- An Israeli settler was shot dead on Thursday when Palestinian gunmen opened fire on his vehicle in the West Bank, medics and police said.
The man in his 40s was found shot in the head in a bullet-riddled car on the road between the Jewish settlements of Einav and Shavei Shomron in the northern West Bank, the head of Magen David Adom emergency services told AFP.



Israeli soldiers standing guard near the site where an Israeli settler was shot dead
Israeli soldiers standing guard near the site where an Israeli settler was shot dead
The victim, who died of his wounds shortly after the attack, was later identified as Meir Avshalom Hai, a father of seven children, according to Israeli Colonel Avi Gil.
"We believe that the person responsible is a Palestinian who took advantage of the fact that we lifted roadblocks three weeks ago to facilitate movement," Gil told reporters.
Gil said that 11 shootings have been reported in the West Bank so far in 2009, while an attack involving automatic weapons killed two Israelis in 2008.
The latest was claimed by the Imad Moughnieh branch of the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, named after the former Hezbollah leader killed last year in an attack in Syria.
"We conducted the attack and then managed to escape. There will be other similar operations," it said in a statement received by AFP.
Previously, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said the incident was "a terrorist attack" carried out by Palestinian militants.
An Israeli military spokeswoman confirmed the man lived in the Shavei Shomron settlement.
But Adnan Domiri, spokesman of the security services of the Palestinian Authority, said earlier that "there is no armed group in the West Bank, apart from services within our control."
He added Palestinians "were not authorised to investigate what happened" in the northern region.
The West Bank has seen little violence in recent years as Palestinian security forces have deployed in cities across the Israeli-occupied territory.
Israel has in turn lifted some of its hundreds of checkpoints and roadblocks to allow for greater freedom of movement, contributing to increased economic development in the wake of the devastating 2000 intifada, or uprising.
Nearly a half million Israelis live in dozens of settlements scattered across the West Bank and east Jerusalem, territories occupied in the 1967 Six Day War that the Palestinians have demanded as part of their future state.
The fate of the settlements has been one of the thorniest issues in past rounds of Middle East peace talks, and the Palestinians have demanded a complete halt to settlement building ahead of any new round of negotiations.
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Friday, December 25th 2009
AFP
           


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