Arabs Kill 3, Wound 5 in Gush; One Wounded Near EliSunday, October 16, 2005
Terrorists from the PA have fired on a hitchhikers on Route 60 in Gush Etzion in the direction of Kiryat Arba, killing three and wounding five. In a similar attack near Eli, one Jew was wounded.
According to Magen David Adom ambulance services, three persons were killed in the attack in Gush Etzion, as Arabs driving in a vehicle opened fire at stop used by hitchikers. Another five persons were wounded, among them, two seriously, one moderately, and one lightly.
The wounded have been evacuated to the hospital.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing backpacks strewn with victims' blood at the intersection where the attack occurred.
"A Palestinian passed by in a car, let off a burst of fire, and struck down people standing at the hitchhiking post," said Shaul Goldstein, head of the Gush Etzion Municipal Council, on Israel radio.
The Al Aksa Brigades, a terror group associated with the Fatah PLO faction claimed responsibility for the attack. PA chief Mahmoud Abbas is a member of the Fatah party that controls the Palestinian Authority.
Shortly after the attack in Gush Etzion, Arab terrorists driving a Hyundai opened fire on Jewish pedestrians walking on the highway between Eli and Shiloh in Samaria. One person, wounded in his upper leg, has been evacuated to the hospital.
According to police, Arabs fired from a passing car on Jews waiting for rides at the Gush Etzion hitching post. Two vehicles also were hit in the attack. The Arabs were driving a vehicle identified as a Subaru. The terrorists have not been apprehended.
The Gush Etzion intersection where the attack occurred is located only a short distance from Bethlehem, an Arab populated city controlled by the Palestinian Authority. Police suspect that the perpetrators have already fled to Bethlehem.
The tunnel road between Gush Etzion and Jerusalem that bypasses Bethlehem was closed following the attack.
David Baker, an official from the prime minister's office, accused the Arabs of exploiting "humanitarian gestures," including the removal of roadblocks, which Israel recently made toward the Arab population in Judea and Samaria. The gestures were made ahead of a summit that was supposed to have taken place between PA chief Mahmoud Abbas, and Prime Minister Ariel Sharon.
The meeting was called by Abbas when he accused Israel of not making enough significant concessions to the PA.
The IDF removed the roadblocks from roads like Route 60 where both of the attacks took place, despite the warnings of many in the security establishment that after Israel's unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, PA terrorists would intensify their war in Judea and Samaria.
Among Abbas' demands for the summit were for Israel to approve arming the PA with more rifles and armored personnel carriers. Senior IDF officials reportedly were in favor of approving Abbas' demand. Abbas also demanded that IDF troops withdraw from Ramallah and Shechem, opening the way for PA forces to control these Arab-populated cities, much in the same way that the PA controls, Jericho, Bethlehem, and Tulkarem in Judea and Samaria.
Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz recently authorized PA troops in Tulkarem (located on the coastal plain near the suburbs of Tel Aviv), to rearm and openly display their weapons in the streets.
In another gesture recently approved to improve relations with the Palestinian Authority, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.Gen. Dan Halutz, ordered the IDF to halt targeting members of the Al Aksa Brigades. Halutz recently told a French newspaper that Israel had halted that attacks because the Brigades had linked up with offical PA forces and were no longer targeting Israelis.