JERUSALEM (JTA) — Two Israelis were killed and another injured in a terror attack in the Barkan industrial area in the West Bank.
The attack took place on Sunday morning shortly before 8:00 at the beginning of the work week in the settlement’s industrial zone that is home to 160 factories that employ thousands of Palestinian and Jewish workers.
The man and woman died of their injuries at the scene. The third person, a woman in her 50s, was taken to a nearby Israeli hospital in serious but stable condition, according to Magen David Adom. The dead woman later was identified as Kim Levengrond Yehezkel, 29, of Rosh Ha’ayin in central Israel. The dead man was identified as Ziv Hajbi, a 35-year-old father of three from Rishon Lezion in central Israel. They both were tied up and shot at close range.
The attack is reported to be the first of its kind in the Barkan industrial Park.
The attacker, who used an assault rifle and reportedly knew the two dead victims, was caught on security cameras leaving the factory where he shot his victims and where he has been employed for several months. He had a permit to enter Barkan for work, but it is not known how he was able to bring the weapon into the industrial zone.He reportedly left behind a suicide note with a friend.
The Israel Defense Forces launched a search for the attacker, who was identified as a 23 year-old Palestinian from the village of Shweika near the West Bank city of Tulkarem. “This is a serious terror attack,” said IDF Spokesman Ronen Manlis in a statement. “He may have had other motives, but we unequivocally state that this is a terrorist attack, in light of other findings we have.” He added that special units were brought in to help capture the shooter.
Manlis called the Barkan Industrial Zone “an area of ??co-existence in which Palestinians work daily with a permit alongside Jews. We are examining the events of the day, but it is clear to all of us that preserving this coexistence is part of the IDF’s mission, and we will continue to do so.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly Cabinet meeting on Sunday morning called the shootings a “severe terrorist attack.”
“The security forces are in pursuit of the reprehensible murderer. I am certain that they will apprehend him and I am also certain that we will deal with him to the fullest extent of the law and quickly,” Netanyahu said.
“This was not only an attack on innocent people going about their daily lives, it was also an attack on the possibility of Israelis and Palestinians co-existing peacefully,” President Reuven Rivlin said in a statement. “I call on the Palestinian leadership to condemn this murderous attack and to use the forces at their disposal to capture the terrorist and those who aided him.”
The Hamas terror organization in a statement called the attack “a new chapter in our resistance in the West Bank. The incident has proven that ant attempts of the Palestinian Authority to normalize relations with the Zionist occupier are unsuccessful.”
The attack is a reply to “Israel’s war crimes in Gaza, Jerusalem, the Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar and the damage Israel causes to the al-Aqsa mosque,” Daoud Shehab, an Islamic Jihad spokesman, said. “We call on our people to rise up against the settlements terror until the West Bank is freed from it.”