A PALESTINIAN has killed five Israelis in an attack on a West Bank settlement, who according to media reports were all members of the same family, including a baby and a toddler.
An Israeli army spokeswoman confirmed today that a Palestinian got into the Itamar settlement near Nablus in the north of the West Bank and killed five people, but did not elaborate on who the victims were.
Israeli reports suggested that the victims had all been stabbed to death in their beds.
According to the Israeli news site Ynet, the victims were a month-old baby, two children aged three and 11 years old, and their parents. Three other children managed to escape and raise the alarm, Ynet reported.
The army had launched a search of the area to find the attacker or attackers, said the army spokeswoman.
An AFP photographer noted that military checkpoints had sealed off all the roads in the district and the residents of Itamar had been told to stay at home.
Palestinian security sources said that Israeli soldiers in jeeps had deployed in the sector, sending ambulances to the scene, and said an army helicopter was flying over the area of the attack.
Tension between Palestinians and Jewish settlers in the area has been extremely high in recent days.
Today, Israeli soldiers fired live rounds at Palestinians after they clashed with Israeli settlers near Nablus.
Ten Palestinians and a Jewish settler were wounded during the violence, according to Palestinian medical sources and a spokesman for the settlers.
A week earlier, police clashed with settlers in the Havat Gilad outpost west of Nablus as officers moved in to remove a caravan, a tent and another half-built illegal structure there.
That prompted settlers to firebomb a house in Huwarra village, which saw two Palestinian children taken to hospital for smoke inhalation.
They also smashed up shops and cars in the southern city of Hebron and settlers also cut down 500 olive tree saplings that had been planted on the site of a former settlement outpost.
The settlers routinely react when police and soldiers demolish structures in settlements or wildcat settlement outposts in what are known as “price tag” attacks, which often target Palestinians.
This violence against the local population is a direct response to what they consider “anti-settler” activity by the Israeli government.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday warned hardline settlers that such attacks were unacceptable.
The last deadly attack on a West Bank settlement was on August 31 last year, when four settlers were killed near Hebron, in the southern part of the West Bank. Two other Israelis were wounded in an attack the following day in Ramallah.
The following month, the Palestinian Authority of president Mahmoud Abbas, said those responsible for both attacks had been arrested. He identified them as members of the rival Hamas group that controls the Gaza Strip.