Israeli forces block Palestinian city of Ramallah as W. Bank violence continues
ABBAS MOMANI (AFP)
Palestinian media and the IDF both reported strict checkpoint rules being enforced around the city of Ramallah on Thursday, following an attack that killed two in a nearby Israeli outpost.
The attack, which is currently treated as a copycat attack of a shooting, which injured seven adults and killed an infant last Sunday in the Israeli settlemement of Ofra, in the West Bank.
The attack took place in Assaf Junction, a small Israeli civilian outpost less than 6 kilometers away from Ofra.
A gunman got out of his vehicle and shot indiscrimiately at a group of soldiers and civilians before escaping the scene on foot. The IDF later on confirmed that three of the four victims were soldiers, two killed and one moderately wounded.
The name of one of the victims is Yovel Mor Yosef, a 20-year old from the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon. The other victim was identified as Yosef Cohen from Beit Shemesh.
Mor Yosef was posthumously promoted to staff-sergeant while Cohen was posthumously promoted to sergeant.
סמל-ראשון יובל מור-יוסף ז"ל, לוחם בחטיבת "כפיר", בן 20, מאשקלון, וסמל יוסף כהן ז"ל, לוחם בחטיבת "כפיר", בן 19 מבית שמש, נפלו היום בפיגוע הירי בצומת אסף. אנו משתתפים בצער המשפחות וימשיך ללוותן pic.twitter.com/v0PqrdSNsV— צבא ההגנה לישראל (@idfonline) December 13, 2018
The IDF brought heavy troop reinforcements to the area and immediately closed the nearby Bet El military checkpoint.
Palestinian sources said that minor clashes were going on in Bet El on Friday, with local youths throwing stones at Israeli soldiers, while dozens of cars were reportedly immobilized.
A Palestinian man was later arrested at a checkpoint, reportedly wearing an IDF uniform. No further information was released about the arrest, or whether it was related to the shooting.
Two further car-ramming attacks have taken place in the area between Ramallah and Route 60, the major central road in the region where both Ofra and Assaf junction are situated.
Two car-ramming attacks took place later in the afternoon.
The first, which took place in Al-Bireh, a north-eastern suburb of Ramallah. The driver was shot dead.
Another incident later on was originally reported as a car ramming, but was retracted by the IDF and reclassified as a road accident.
The IDF said it was checking all entrances and exits to the area, as part of their investigations.
The Palestinian Authority condemned the buildup of forces in the area, saying Ramallah was "under siege".
A Fatah spokesperson, Mounir el-Jagoub, said Israel should expect a response commensurate with the IDF "attack".
"The Palestinian people will not raise a white flag", el-Jagoub said.
Ramallah houses the headquarters of the Palestinian executive, and Israeli forces generally avoid going in the city because of a heavy Palestinian security presence.
In the last few days, Israeli forces have heightened their presence in the area, following an attack in Ofra on Sunday, which the IDF said it suspected was a model for today's shooting.
Jonathan Conricus, the IDF foreign media spokesman, said enhanced military presence would continue in the next few days, as Israel attempts to locate the shooter.
"We will enforce offensive and defensive positions to protect communities", he added.
He also said Israeli forces expected an uptick in violence in the coming days, as the founding day of Hamas approaches.
Claiming the Ofra and Barkan attackers as their militants on Thursday, Hamas called again for nationwide protests on another "day of rage" on Friday.
This is a developing story.
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