Middle East

Israel seals off Hebron after surge of attacks

Scene of attack on car neat Otniel (01/07/16) Image copyright AFP
Image caption The car turned over and crashed after the attack

Israel has sealed off the city of Hebron in the occupied West Bank, following an upsurge in deadly attacks.

The Israeli army says it is sending hundreds more soldiers to Hebron and officials are withholding some tax transfers to the Palestinian Authority.

It comes after an Israeli man was killed and his wife and two children wounded after their car was fired on near the Jewish settlement of Otniel.

It was the second fatal attack on an Israeli in the West Bank in two days.

Thirty-five Israelis have now been killed in a wave of knife, gun and car-ramming attacks since October.

More than 200 Palestinians - mostly attackers, Israel says - have also been killed in that period.

On Friday a group of world powers known as the Quartet issued a report warning of "perpetual occupation and conflict" between Israelis and Palestinians unless both sides take positive action.

The Hebron closure will limit movement except for humanitarian cases, Israeli military spokesman Lt Col Peter Lerner said.

He added that this was the military's "most substantial" move since 2014. The Hebron area is home to some 700,000 people.

'Incentive for murder'

The victims of Friday's attack were members of the same family. Local media named the dead man as 48-year-old Michael "Miki" Mark, a father-of-10.

He was killed when the car crashed after the attack. His wife and two children were taken to hospital for treatment.

Image copyright AP
Image caption Friday's attack happened on road near Hebron

Israeli forces were still searching for a Palestinian gunman.

In the wake of the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Israel to deduct from tax it collects on behalf of the PA the equivalent amount which the PA pays each month to Palestinian militants jailed in Israel.

"Israel believes that the encouragement of terrorism by the PA leadership - in incitement and in payments to terrorists and their families - constitutes incentive for murder," the prime minister's office said.

The shooting happened on Route 60, about nine miles (15km) south of the settlement of Kiryat Arba, where a day earlier 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel was stabbed to death in her bedroom by a Palestinian as she slept.

Her attacker, from a nearby village, was shot dead by settlement guards.

Hours before the shooting attack, a Palestinian woman was shot dead by security forces in Hebron, adjacent to Kiryat Arba, after drawing a knife, police said.

Police said the woman had tried to stab a policewoman who was searching her at the entrance to a shrine revered by Jews and Muslims.

Elsewhere in the West Bank a Palestinian man died during clashes at the Qalandiya checkpoint, near Ramallah, where Muslims were trying to cross to Jerusalem for prayers.

Local hospital officials say he had a heart attack brought on by inhaling tear gas.