Palestinian gunman kills Israeli guards at West Bank checkpoint

Attacker (37) thought to have personal problems kills three as US envoy arrives in region


A Palestinian man shot and killed three Israeli security personnel at a West Bank checkpoint on Tuesday morning before himself being fatally shot, further complicating peace efforts as a US envoy arrived in the region in an effort to renew direct peace talks.

The victims were a border police officer and two civilian security guards – one Jewish and one Arab. A fourth Israeli sustained serious wounds.

The checkpoint lies on the edge of Har Adar, an affluent Israeli community northwest of Jerusalem that straddles the 1967 West Bank Green line border.

Israeli officials identified the attacker as Nimr al-Jamal (37) from the nearby Palestinian village of Beit Surik, a father of four who appeared to have acted alone. He had a work permit allowing him to cross into Israel and had worked in Har Adar in the past.

Personal problems

An initial Israeli investigation found that al-Jimal had personal and family problems, including a history of domestic violence. His wife fled to Jordan a few weeks ago and left him on his own with the children. He left a will for his wife in which he wrote that she had nothing to do with whatever happened and that he had been a bad husband, whereas she had been a good wife and a compassionate mother.

Up to 150 Palestinian labourers typically enter Har Adar each day for work and the assailant was with a group of workers entering the community when he opened fire with a pistol.

The attack comes at a tense period amid the Jewish high holidays and is likely to complicate the mediation efforts of United States peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, who had just arrived in the region for meetings with Israeli and Palestinians leaders.

Speaking at the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu blamed “systematic Palestinian incitement” for the attack and said he expected Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas to “condemn this attack and not try to justify it”.

Home demolished

Mr Netanyahu also vowed that “the home of the terrorist will be demolished. The army is already surrounding the terrorist’s village and revoking the work permits of his extended family.”

On Tuesday afternoon Israeli troops raided the village and arrested the gunman’s father and brother.

Defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said he saw no difference between Palestinian terrorism and radical Islamic terrorism targeting sites in Europe and elsewhere.

“Before talking about any kind of negotiations, the world must demand of the Palestinian Authority to stop its incitement and encouragement of terror,” he said, alluding to Mr Greenblatt’s visit and his goal of securing Israeli goodwill gestures toward the Palestinians.

An official spokesperson for Mr Abbas’s Fatah party wrote on Facebook after the attack that Israel was responsible for the Palestinian response to its crimes.

A Hamas spokesperson in Gaza praised the shooting.

“Our people will not let the settlers live safely when the occupation takes our lands.”