NABLUS: An Israeli soldier was shot dead Tuesday near a colony in the West Bank in an attack claimed by Palestinian militants, the second deadly assault on armed forces within days.
Violence has surged in recent months in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, amid near daily West Bank raids and an uptick in attacks on Israeli troops.
The Israeli army said the soldier, identified as 21-year-old Ido Baroukh, was killed when “two assailants arrived in a vehicle adjacent to the community of Shavei Shomron and shot live fire,” referring to an Israeli colony.
The shooting was claimed by “The Lions’ Den”, a loose coalition of Palestinian militants which has emerged in recent months.
“We announce carrying out a second shooting operation targeting occupation (Israeli) soldiers in the Deir Sharaf area, west of Nablus,” the group said.
Israeli forces are in pursuit of the assailants, the military added in its statement.
“We won’t stop until we catch the killers,” Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said, according to a statement from his office.
Defence Minister Benny Gantz vowed to “get our hands on the terrorist and those who helped him”, writing on Twitter.
The killing comes three days after an 18-year-old Israeli soldier was shot dead at a checkpoint by the Palestinian refugee camp of Shuafat, in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.
Israeli forces are continuing a manhunt for the alleged gunman from that attack, identified by police as a 22-year-old Palestinian resident of the city.
Last month, Palestinian and Arab-Israeli gunmen wounded six Israeli soldiers and a civilian when they sprayed bullets at a bus in the occupied West Bank, the army said at the time.
The Israeli army and other security forces have launched near daily West Bank raids in recent months, following deadly attacks against Israelis.
More than 100 Palestinian fighters and civilians have been killed during the military operations, the heaviest toll in the West Bank for nearly seven years, according to the United Nations.
Since Friday, Israeli forces have shot dead four Palestinian teenagers in the West Bank, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
A fifth Palestinian, a 12-year-old boy, died on Monday from wounds sustained last month during an Israeli military raid in the West Bank city of Jenin.
In pursuit of Saturday’s attacker, Israeli forces shut the entrances to Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp and the United Nations said schools there closed on Monday.
Ahmad Tibi, an Arab-Israeli lawmaker, visited the camp on Tuesday and described the “suffering” of residents.
“Sick people are not able to get outside to be treated, bakeries are empty, some physicians and doctors and nurses were not able to get in,” he told AFP.
“In order to get out, you need to wait in your car, three or four hours. This is suffering, this is collective punishment,” Tibi added.
Residents of the refugee camp on Tuesday called for “civil disobedience” in protest at the Israeli measures.