More restrictions on West Bank Palestinians after shooting

Hamas claims responsibility for killing four Israelis in trendy restaurant

Palestinians and Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint as the army announced a closed military zone in Yatta. Photograph: Abed al Hashlamoun/EPA

Palestinians and Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint as the army announced a closed military zone in Yatta. Photograph: Abed al Hashlamoun/EPA

 

Israel has imposed a series of restrictions on West Bank Palestinians in response to Wednesday night’s shooting in a Tel Aviv restaurant, but fell short of a widespread clampdown which might have increased tension during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan which began this week.

Four Israelis were killed in the crowded restaurant when two West Bank Palestinians dressed in suits and ties opened fire with automatic weapons at point-blank range after first ordering desserts. Thirteen other people were injured.

More ‘surprises’

HamasTemple MountJerusalem

The shooting came after a relative ebb in militant attacks that began nine months ago, with Israeli security officials declaring that if the month of Ramadan passed without incident it would be possible to declare that the wave of violence was over. The incident marked the first major test for Israel’s new defence minister Avigdor Lieberman who, over the past year when he was a member of the Opposition, often called for a hardline response to end militant attacks. However, the initial Israeli response was broadly in line with actions following previous attacks, representing the policy of the defence establishment not to increase sympathy for the militants among the wider Palestinian population.

Hundreds of troops were sent to the village of Yatta, at the southern tip of the West Bank near Hebron, where the two 21-year-old cousins who carried the attack came from.

Their homes were isolated ahead of probable demolition by the army. All movement in and out of Yatta was blocked, except for humanitarian cases.

Both gunmen survived the attack. One was hospitalised after being shot and wounded by police. The other was apprehended after entering a nearby apartment reportedly pretending to be a passer-by fleeing the scene of the shooting.

Not returning bodies

Jordan

Mr Lieberman also ordered a halt to the practice of returning West Bank Palestinian attackers’ bodies to their families for burial.

The office of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas issued a general rejection of violence without specifically mentioning the Tel Aviv attack. “The presidency has repeatedly rejected all operations against civilians from any party, no matter the justification,” it said.

The European Union condemned the attack. “Those responsible for these murders must be brought to justice. Those who praise this attack must be condemned,” it said.