A Palestinian man inspects scorched cars, including some junked for spare parts, in the West Bank village of A Laban Al Sharkiyeh, Wednesday, June 21, 2023. Israeli settlers set fire to cars after four Israelis were killed by Palestinian gunmen in the northern West Bank on Tuesday. Image Credit: AP

JERUSALEM: The Israeli military on Wednesday deployed additional forces across the West Bank and prepared to demolish the homes of two Palestinian gunmen who killed four Israelis in one of the worst attacks in the past year of violence.

The families laid to rest the victims in the deadly shooting in the West Bank settlement of Eli, in which two Palestinian militants opened fire at a gas station restaurant.

Israeli media identified the four killed as Harel Masood, 21, Ofer Fayerman, 64, and Elisha Anteman, 18, Nahman-Shmuel Mordoff, 17.

An Israeli civilian killed one assailant at the scene, while Israeli troops chased and killed the second shooter after he fled.

The shooting came a day after seven Palestinians were killed in a daylong battle against Israeli troops in the militant stronghold of Jenin. The worsening violence has created a test for Israel’s far right government and prompted calls for a widespread military operation in the West Bank.

The army said it was beefing up its troop presence in the West Bank. On Wednesday morning, it said troops arrested three suspects in the Palestinian village of Urif in connection to the attack and mapped out the homes of the two gunmen ahead of their likely demolition.

Collective punishment

Israel demolishes the homes of Palestinian attackers as part of a policy it says aims to deter others, but critics say the tactic amounts to collective punishment.

Hamas did not officially claim responsibility for the attack, although it identified the two gunmen — Mohannad Faleh, 26, who was killed by a civilian at the scene and Khaled Sabah, 24, who was killed by the army as he fled — as its members.

In the aftermath of Tuesday’s attack, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian property in adjacent villages, causing extensive property damage. At least five Palestinians were wounded in attacks by Israeli settlers, Israel’s army radio reported.

Tuesday’s shooting followed a massive gunbattle between Palestinian militants and Israeli troops in the northern Jenin refugee camp a day earlier. Seven Palestinians were killed and more than 90 others were wounded in that clash. On Wednesday, the death toll from the raid rose to seven when 15-year-old Sadeel Naghniyeh succumbed to wounds sustained in the gunbattle, Palestinian health officials said.

Eight Israeli soldiers were also wounded in the shootout.

Tuesday’s deadly shooting was the latest in a long string of violence in the region over the past year and half that shows no sign of relenting. At least 130 Palestinians and 24 people on the Israeli side have been killed so far this year, according to a tally by The Associated Press.

Israel has been staging near-nightly raids in the West Bank in response to a string of deadly Palestinian attacks targeting Israeli civilians early in 2022. Israel says most of the Palestinians killed were militants, but stone-throwing youths protesting the incursions and others not involved in confrontations have also been killed.

Israel captured the West Bank, along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek those territories for a future independent state.