Hamas claims drive-by attack ahead of summit

Hamas last night claimed responsibility for the killing of four Israelis in a West Bank drive-by shooting attack 24 hours before President Barack Obama hosts a dinner summit to start the first direct peace negotiations for 20 months.

The shooting near the the Palestinian city of Hebron was said by the Israeli military to have been the most lethal single attack in the West Bank for four years It is the first fatal West Bank shooting since a policeman was killed in June, also outside Hebron.

The Israeli military said the gunmen fired at a car containing two men and two women, one of them pregnant. All were said to be residents of the Jewish West Bank settlement of Beit Hagai in the South Hebron Hills.

The attack occurred after dark on Route 60, a busy main road through the occupied West Bank used by both Israeli and Palestinian motorists. The attack cast an immediate shadow over an imminent 48 hours of intense diplomatic activity in Washington as both the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, arrived in the city ahead of meetings before the formal launch of the new direct talks by US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, tomorrow.

The Israeli Defence Minister, Ehud Barak, said Israel would "exact a price" for the killings and added: "This was an apparent bid by lowly terrorists to sabotage the attempt to achieve a diplomatic process and to try to hurt the chances of the talks opening in Washington."

The Ynet news service earlier quoted a paramedic who went to the scene, Guy Gonen, as saying the victims were shot at close range in what appeared to be a "well-planned ambush".

Security forces had been prepared for possible violence which might be committed ahead of the talks, as in the past, by Palestinian groups opposed to negotiations with Israel. Hamas, which has no role in the negotiations, has repeatedly criticised Mr Abbas for agreeing to direct talks with Israel. Its armed wing, the Izz el-Din al-Qassam, last night issued a statement saying: "The Qassam Brigades announces its full responsibility for the heroic operation in Hebron."

Hebron is unusual among West Bank cities in that, beside being bordered by the large 42-year-old settlement of Kiryat Arba, it also contains an inner-city enclave which is home to around 800 Jewish settlers.

A US State Department spokesman, P J Crowley, told reporters in Washington: "We are cognisant 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."

Hundreds of Hamas supporters reportedly demonstrated in support of the attack in one of the faction's strongholds in the town of Jabalya in northern Gaza.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
peopleMathematician John Nash inspired the film Beautiful Mind
News
Richard Blair is concerned the trenches are falling into disrepair
newsGeorge Orwell's son wants to save war site that inspired book
Life and Style
Audrey Hepburn with Hubert De Givenchy, whose well-cut black tuxedo is a 'timeless look'
fashionIt may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
Arts and Entertainment
The pair in their heyday in 1967
music
Life and Style
fashionFrom bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine