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Palestinian attacker kills Israeli in West Bank: military

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Israeli forensic police inspect the scene of Palestinian shooting attack near the Jewish settlement of Ariel, in the occupied West Bank March 17, 2019. REUTERS/Ammar Awad

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – At least one Israeli was killed and two others were wounded in a Palestinian attack in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, a military spokesman said.

The incident began when a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier at an intersection near the Jewish settlement of Ariel and grabbed his assault rifle, the spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, said on a conference call with journalists.

The assailant used the weapon to fire at three vehicles, hitting a civilian and then hijacking a car, which he drove to another junction nearby where he shot a second soldier before continuing on to a nearby Palestinian village.

Conricus said one Israeli was killed and two others were wounded. He did not identify the man who died, and said it was not immediately clear if more than one assailant was involved.

In public remarks at the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of several assailants, saying: “Security forces are pursuing the attackers. I am certain they will be apprehended.”

The Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, praised the West Bank attack as a “natural response to crimes committed by the Israeli occupation”. The statement stopped short of a claim of responsibility.

Conricus said the military did not yet know if the attacker was affiliated with any organization.

Palestinians, many of them individuals without known associations with militant groups, carried out a wave of attacks in the West Bank in late 2015 and 2016, but the frequency of such incidents has since decreased.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2014.

Writing by Jeffrey Heller, Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise

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