Militants claim West Bank shooting


Two Palestinian militant groups today claimed responsibility for the West Bank shooting of an Israeli who was killed in an attack last night, a joint statement from the groups said.

Islamic Jihad and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, an offshoot of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah movement, said their operatives had killed an Israeli settler in the West Bank.

The Israeli military said Meir Avshalom Hai, a 40-year-old father of seven, died when his car came under fire in the occupied West Bank last night, either from a passing car or a roadside ambush, near the city of Nablus.

Hai was the first Israeli fatality in a Palestinian militant attack in the West Bank since April.

Colonel Avi Gil, an Israeli commander in the area said the military has been removing checkpoints from West Bank roads to ease travel restrictions on Palestinians but it would consider placing new ones if it would prevent future attacks.

He said there had been 11 other shooting attacks in 2009 in the West Bank.

Deadly West Bank attacks have tapered off significantly in the past few years through improved coordination between the Israeli military and Western-backed Abbas's security forces who have become more effective in patrolling Palestinian areas.