A U.S. citizen is one of the latest killed in West Bank violence
A Connecticut native has been identified as the person shot to death Monday by a suspected Palestinian gunman in the Israeli occupied West Bank, according to the Israeli foreign ministry. His death is the latest in a wave of violence that has claimed Israeli and Palestinian lives.
Elan Ganeles of West Hartford, Conn., was visiting Israel for a friend's wedding when he was killed, according to the Jewish Federation of Greater Hartford. The 27-year-old was shot on a road frequented by international tourists that passes through the West Bank toward the Dead Sea. He recently graduated from Columbia University. He'll be buried in Israel on Wednesday.
Israeli officials say Ganeles was killed when a gunman opened fire on several motorists. The attack came a day after two Israeli brothers, Hillel and Yagel Yaniv, were shot and killed in their car.
After that attack Sunday, hundreds of Jewish settlers went on a deadly riot and arson rampage in a nearby Palestinian town of Huawara where Palestinian Sameh Aqtash was shot and killed.
His brother, Abdul Monem Aqtash, told NPR producer Nuha Musleh that Aqtash had recently returned from Turkey where he was volunteering to assist victims of the earthquakes that struck Turkey and Syria Feb. 6. He said Aqtash was a blacksmith and was standing outside his shop when the rioters approached and he was killed.
As many as 400 Israeli settlers took part in the riots, the Israeli military says. Police say three are being held under house arrest.
Since last spring, violence has been building in the West Bank, which Israel captured in 1967 and where Palestinians seek to build an independent state. After Palestinian attacks on Israelis, the Israeli military began months of raids it says target militants but have often killed civilians. Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was killed covering one raid in May, with Israel saying a soldier likely shot her by mistake.
The Associated Press says 62 Palestinians — about half identified as militants — and 14 Israelis have been killed since the start of the year. The United Nations Security Council plans to discuss the violence today and U.S. officials have called on both sides to restore calm. The U.S. helped lead talks Sunday that produced a statement of general steps aimed at reducing the violence.
Daniel Estrin reported from Tel Aviv.
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