image Photo: IDF, Flash90

3 Israelis wounded in terror attack

A manhunt is underway for armed Palestinian gunmen who opened fire from a vehicle at the busy Tapuach Junction near a Jewish settlement in the northern West Bank yesterday evening.

According to an initial investigation conducted by the Israeli military, a vehicle with Palestinian license plates stopped their vehicle to shoot at 6 Israeli youths identified as 19-year-old seminary students waiting at a nearby bus stop for at least half a minute, based on eyewitness accounts and security camera footage.

Two of the victims sustained critical injuries in the terror attack, while the third was in light condition.

IDF troops stationed nearby returned fire causing the gunmen to flee in their car, which people on site sad made a U-turn and drove in the direction of the Palestinian Authority seat of power town of Ramallah.

Israeli military checkpoints were immediately set up as part of the ongoing pursuit of the perpetrators.

According to a statement obtained by TV7, United Hatzalah volunteer EMT Menachem Bakush was one of the first responders to arrive at the scene.

“When I arrived I saw three young people each with varying injuries. One was in critical condition, one in serious condition and one in moderate condition. After receiving initial treatment at the scene, they were all transported to Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikvah,” he said.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent his best wishes for the recovery of the people who were wounded in “the vicious shooting attack.”

“The security forces are in pursuit of the terrorists and I am certain that they will apprehend them as soon as possible,” he added, underscoring, “We will not allow terrorism to raise its head and we will strike our enemies with force.”

Earlier in the day, a knife-wielding Palestinian woman was shot by IDF troops at the West Bank Gush Etzion Junction south of Bethlehem when she tried to stab the soldiers.

The incident was also captured on a security camera. After the assailant ignored orders to drop her weapon, one of the soldiers shot her in the leg in accordance with the rules of engagement.

No injuries were reported among the IDF troops; and while Israeli sources did not believe the perpetrator’s condition was life-threatening, Palestinian officials said the 60-year-old later died of her wounds.

Following a “situational assessment” of both attacks, the IDF said an additional combat battalion and an elite counter-terror unit would be deployed to the West Bank.

Tensions have been high in the West Bank and Jerusalem during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which began 13 April. There have been several violent clashes near Jerusalem’s Old City between Israeli police and Palestinians over access to the popular night-time meeting spot at the Damascus Gate.

The Hamas terrorist rulers of Gaza issued a statement welcoming the drive-by shooting as “a natural response to Israeli crimes, and a show of support to the Palestinians in Jerusalem and the ongoing Palestinian resistance in the West Bank.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) also responded by hailing the attack as “a message in the name of the entire Palestinian people according to which Jerusalem is a red line and harming the holy sites will blow up in Israel’s face.”

Yesterday’s violence also comes in the wake of rising Palestinian frustrations over the decision by President Mahmoud Abbas to call off parliamentary elections which had been slated to be held 22 May.