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One person killed in checkpoint shooting near Jerusalem, Israeli police say

Israeli police say officers shoot two of the gunmen, and a third tries to escape but is found and arrested.

Israeli security forces examine the scene of a shooting near the occupied West Bank settlement of Maale Adumim on February 22, 2024 [Mahmoud Illean/AP]

At least one person has been killed and eight wounded when three Palestinian gunmen opened fire at motorists near an Israeli checkpoint near occupied East Jerusalem, Israeli police say.

The head of Israel’s ambulance service, Eli Bean, told the public broadcaster Kan that two women were seriously wounded in the attack on Thursday.

Israeli police said the attackers took advantage of slow-moving morning traffic on the central highway east of Jerusalem near the Maale Adumim settlement in the occupied West Bank and opened fire with automatic weapons at cars waiting near a checkpoint.

A police spokesperson said the gunmen were Palestinians but gave no further details. Police also said two gunmen were killed and a third was arrested.

In response to the attack, far-right Israeli Minister of National Security Itamar Ben-Gvir said freedom of movement for Palestinians should be restricted.

“Our right to life overrides the Palestinians’ freedom of movement,” he said, according to Israeli media reports.

“I will fight for barriers around the villages that will limit the freedom of movement of the residents of the Palestinian Authority.”

Palestinian armed group Hamas, which governs Gaza, said the attack was a “natural response to the [Israeli] occupation’s massacres and crimes in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank”.

Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich demanded the approval of a plan to build thousands of new illegal Israeli settlements in Maale Adumim and nearby areas in response to the shooting.

“The serious attack on Maale Adumim must have a decisive security response but also an answer from the settlements,” he wrote on X.

“Our enemies know that any harm to us will lead to more construction and more development and more of our control across the entire country.”

Tensions in the occupied West Bank have been exacerbated since Israel’s war on Gaza began on October 7 following  Hamas attacks that killed 1,139 people, according to Israeli figures.

Israeli air strikes and a ground offensive in Gaza since the attacks have killed more than 29,000 Palestinians and wounded close to 70,000 people, according to Palestinian health authorities, and has reduced much of the enclave to rubble.

Reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, Al Jazeera’s Willem Marx said the attack is an “indication of the frustration that many people inside the occupied West Bank and those facing challenges around access to the Al-Aqsa Mosque are feeling at this very, very fraught time”.

“This is something that reflects a period in history decades ago when these kinds of attacks were incredibly frequent in and around Jerusalem,” Marx said, adding that there have been “several similar incidents” recently in the West Bank and around illegal settlements.

The shooting “so close to Jerusalem at a busy time in the morning next to a major checkpoint where there’d be a huge security presence is an indication of that frustration”, Marx reported.

Last week, two people were killed by gunmen who police suspect to be Palestinians at a bus stop in southern Israel.


Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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