HAR ADAR (West Bank) • A Palestinian man with security clearance to work at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank opened fire at a checkpoint yesterday, killing two Israeli security guards and a paramilitary policeman.
The attack, which came as United States envoy Jason Greenblatt was due in Jerusalem for talks on relaunching the moribund Middle East peace process, drew condemnation from Israeli officials who called for action from the Palestinian leadership.
The assailant, who was armed with a pistol and also seriously wounded a fourth Israeli, was shot dead, police said.
The incident was unusual in that the 37-year-old man had been issued an Israeli work permit - a process that entails security vetting - unlike most of the Palestinians involved in a wave of street attacks that began two years ago.
A police spokesman said the gunman approached Har Adar among a group of Palestinians who work at the settlement, and aroused the suspicion of guards at the entrance checkpoint. Challenged to halt, the Palestinian "opened his shirt, drew a pistol and fired at the security staff and troopers at close range", the spokesman said.
Residents of the settlement told Israeli media the man worked as a cleaner. One of them, Mr Moish Berdichev, said he had domestic problems - his wife had left him - and speculated he may have carried out the attack knowing he would not survive. "He was a guy with a good head on his shoulders. It's a shame. Very sad," Mr Berdichev told Army Radio.
CONDEMNING THE ATTACK
I expect (Mr Mahmoud Abbas) to condemn the attack and not try to justify it.
'' ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, calling on the Palestinian President to respond to the attack.
The Shin Bet internal security service identified the man as Nimr Jamal and said he had "severe personal and family issues, including domestic violence". The man lived in the nearby Palestinian village of Beit Suriq, the police said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in public remarks to his Cabinet that the man's house would be demolished and any work permits issued to his relatives would be revoked. Mr Netanyahu called on the Palestinian President to condemn the attack. "I expect (Mr Mahmoud Abbas) to condemn the attack and not try to justify it," he said.
Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which rules Gaza, hailed the attack as "revenge for the crime of occupation against our people". The United Nations envoy to the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov condemned both the attack and the Hamas reaction.
REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE