JERUSALEM – Today’s deadly terror attack that killed four people took place on a road where the Israeli government removed staffed anti-terror checkpoints in line with requests from the Obama administration, WND has learned.
As President Obama was preparing for a Washington summit with the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, Palestinian terrorists today carried out a shooting attack, killing two Jewish men and two women, one of whom was pregnant.
The attack took place in the West Bank just south of the entrance to Kiryat Arba, near the historic biblical city of Hebron.
Israeli security officials say the terrorist shooting was a coordinated ambush.
Officially, Hamas took responsibility for the terror attack, in which gunmen opened fire at point-blank range on a car carrying the four Israeli civilians.
Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, confirmed to WND his group was behind the attack.
Abu-Ubaida, a spokesman for Hamas’ Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, stated today’s shooting was “a link in a chain-series of attacks – some have been executed, and others will follow.”
The attack took place in the same general area where a gunman opened fire on an Israeli police vehicle just outside Hebron in June. A police officer was killed and two others were wounded in that shooting attack. Israeli security officials say the shooting was a planned ambush similar to today’s attack.
Both incidents took place on Route 60, a West Bank road used by Israeli and Palestinian drivers and patrolled by Israel.
In the last year, the Israeli government removed 19 staffed checkpoints in the West Bank. At least 15 of the removed barriers are in the vicinity of Hebron.
A spokeperson for the Israel Defense Forces confirmed to WND that in the last year and a half, all roadblocks have been removed from Route 60.
The checkpoints were dismantled in line with demands from the Palestinian Authority that were passed on to Israel by the Obama administration.
George Mitchell, the White House envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, specifically requested that Israel remove roadblocks and checkpoints as a confidence-building gesture to restart talks with the PA, Israeli officials told WND.
Anti-terror roadblocks and checkpoints impede Palestinian movement, but have been credited with stopping scores of attacks.
Michael Ben-Ari, a Knesset member from Israel’s National Union party, slammed the dismantlement of the checkpoints. “The writing was on the wall. Opening roadblocks encourages terror and gives a free hand to terrorists,” he said.
Preliminary police reports here show the gunmen today approached the Israeli vehicle and shot the victims multiple times at point-blank range.
The Magen David Adom ambulance authority reported the victims were two men ages 25 and 40 and two women, also ages 25 and 40, one of whom was pregnant.
The victims were all residents of Beit Hagai, a Jewish community in the southern Hebron Hills.
Paramedic Guy Ronen described the shooting scene to the Jerusalem Post: “When we arrived on the scene, all four doors of the car were open and four bodies were strewn on the road. We saw that the vital organs had been struck by a very large number of bullets, and that there was no chance of saving their lives.”
“It was a very difficult scene. We had learned to forget scenes like this in recent years,” Ronen added.
State Department spokesman Philip Crowley, meanwhile, commented on the terrorist attack, stating: “We are cognizant that there could be external events that can have an impact on the environment. We also are cognizant that there may well be actors in the region who are deliberately making these kinds of attacks in order to try to sabotage the process.”
The attack occurred just before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plane landed in Washington, where the Israeli leader is set to begin direct negotiations with PA President Mahmoud Abbas. The negotiations are aimed at creating a Palestinian state.
Members of Netanyahu’s entourage said the prime minister was briefed on the events and that he instructed Israel’s security agencies to prepare for the possibility of further attacks aimed at disrupting the Washington summit.