Israel clamps down on West Bank after settler killing
The Israeli military set up roadblocks, checkpoints and sealed off Palestinian villages in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday after an Israeli settler was killed in a drive-by-shooting by suspected Palestinian gunmen a day earlier.
Raziel Shevah, 35, was shot multiple times from a passing vehicle near the hard-line Havat Gilad settlement outpost in the northern occupied West Bank.
"Entrances and exits to and from the villages surrounding Nablus will be possible only after security checks," Israel’s military said in a statement.
"The review of the incident is ongoing. Based on situation assessments, it was decided to reinforce the area with additional forces."
Israeli soldiers checked identification papers and searched cars at checkpoints around Nablus, causing long back-ups. No arrests had been reported.
The area frequently sees tensions between hard-line ideological Israeli settlers and Palestinians.
Past attempts by Israeli authorities to evacuate Havat Gilad have led to clashes with settlers there. Some 50 families currently live in the outpost.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu issued a statement vowing Israel's security services "would do everything possible in order to apprehend the despicable murderer."
Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called for the unauthorized outpost to be retroactively recognised in response to the attack.
Hamas praised the shooting as "heroic" but did not claim responsibility for the attack.
Hundreds attended Shevah's funeral at Havat Gilad on Wednesday. Some mourners yelled "revenge" at the ceremony during a eulogy by Naftali Bennett, leader of the pro-settler Jewish Home party.
Bennett called on the government to officially recognize the area as sovereign Israeli territory.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman responded to Tuesday's attack on Twitter, writing that Shevah was "killed last night in cold blood by Palestinian terrorists."
"Hamas praises the killers and PA laws will provide them financial rewards. Look no further to why there is no peace," Friedman said.
Israel's settlement project in the occupied territories is illegal under international law and seen by the international community as a major obstacle to peace with the Palestinians.
About 400,000 Israelis live in illegal settlements in the West Bank, a Palestinian territory occupied by Israel for 50 years.
A further 200,000 live in East Jerusalem, annexed by Israel in a move never recognised by the international community.