From Jerusalem Post Breaking News from Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World: Oct. 16, 2005 16:18 Updated Oct. 16, 2005 22:47 By ARIEH O'SULLIVAN AND JPOST STAFF ...
Three Israelis were killed and five were wounded in two back-to-back shooting attacks along Highway 60, a north-south route in the West Bank, on Sunday afternoon. All three of the victims were residents of the Southern Hebron Hills: Kinneret Mandel and her cousin, Matat Rosenfeld Eldar, both of the settlement of Carmel and Oz ben Meir, 15, of Maon. Eldar, 21, was married three months ago. Al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades, linked to the ruling Fatah Party, claimed responsibility for both attacks in anonymous phones calls. The attacks occured as Israeli security services were on high alert ahead of the week-long Succot holiday, which begins Monday night.
In the first shooting, Palestinians in a passing Subaru sprayed bullets at a group of people waiting for rides at the hitchhiking post near the Gush Etzion Junction in Judea, between Bethlehem and Hebron. The highway is jointly used by Israelis and Palestinians.
Four others were wounded in the attack; one seriously, two moderately, and one lightly. Eyewitnesses described blood-spattered backpacks strewn haphazardly at the busy intersection.
All of the victims of the Gush Etzion shooting were evacuated by ambulance to Jerusalem's Hadassah Ein Kerem Hospital, except for one lightly wounded victim who was transported Shaare Zedek, ZAKA medics reported.
Less than an hour later, passengers in a Hyundai opened fire at two residents of the settlement Eli as they walked on the shoulder of the highway near the Eli Junction in the Benyamin region, north of Jerusalem. One of them was wounded in the thigh and was evacuated to the nearby settlement of Eli for first aid before Magen David Adom teams arrived on the scene. Security forces were searching for the attackers in the Israeli-controlled sections of the area, but had not yet apprehended any suspects. It was suspected that the terrorists fled to the Palestinian-controlled area nearby.
"The police and the army are searching, and the whole area has been cordoned off," said police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld. David Baker, an official in the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, denounced the shooting. "Israel removed roadblocks and made a number of humanitarian gestures to ease up on the Palestinians," he told The Associated Press. "It's unfortunate that the Palestinians have exploited these measures to carry out these murderous attacks."
Less than four months ago, another two young residents of the Southern Hebron Hills, Aviad Mansour, 16, and Avihai Levy, 17, were killed in a similar attack at the Beit Haggai hitchhiking post.
Sunday's murders were the bloodiest assault in the West Bank since the completion of the pullout from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria last month. Security officials have warned that following the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip, Palestinian terrorists would shift their activities to the West Bank.
With the Associated Press