Soldier seriously wounded in suspected terror attack
"We will respond with a heavy hand," Prime Minister Lapid said in weekly Cabinet meeting
An Israeli soldier was severely injured and several other people were hurt in a shooting attack on a bus carrying soldiers in the Jordan Valley on Sunday afternoon.
The injured soldier was evacuated to a hospital. The bus driver and several other soldiers were also injured, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
Two suspects were arrested fleeing the scene.
The attack comes as terrorism is on the rise in the West Bank. For several months, Israel has been conducting Operation Break the Wave in the West Bank aimed at literally breaking the wave of terrorism that had plagued Israel from March through May.
And while the operation has seemingly managed to quell the number of attacks in Israel, there are reports of small attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians – rarely resulting in injury or death – in the West Bank every week. Many go unreported in foreign media outlets.
Hours before Sunday's attack, Prime Minister Yair Lapid commented on the ongoing operation "to thwart terrorist activity on Israeli territory" in his weekly Cabinet meeting.
"Our goal is to calm things down, not to escalate the confrontations," he said. "We will continue with the policy that says: We will respond with a heavy hand – including socio-economically – against places from which terrorism originates. In places where quiet is maintained, we will make every effort to enable routine and to advance the Palestinian economy."
His remarks follow a report that American officials have expressed concern about rising violence in the West Bank, particularly in Jenin and Nablus, where Palestinians have shot at worshippers trying to get to Joseph's Tomb.
Channel 13 news quoted an unnamed official as saying that U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf – in the region now – told her Israeli counterparts that the ongoing situation in the West Bank was “very troubling to the Americans.”
“They expressed fear of a security escalation if this dynamic in which Palestinians are killed continues,” the official said.
Israeli officials apparently informed Leaf there was “zero chance” Israel would halt Operation Break the Wave.
“If we don’t want to have an attack in Tel Aviv or Bnei Brak or Elad, we must enter Nablus and Jenin,” Channel 13 reported the official as saying.
The operation began after 19 people were killed in terror attacks throughout Israel that stretched from mid March through May. Some of the attacks were carried out by Arab citizens while the others were by Palestinians who had found a way to get into Israel from the West Bank.
So far, the Israeli army has arrested more than 1,200 suspects as part of the operation. However, 85 Palestinians have been killed this year, including veteran Al Jazeera journalist Shireen Abu Akleh.
Nicole Jansezian was the news editor and senior correspondent for ALL ISRAEL NEWS.