A 17-year-old Israeli girl was killed in a terrorist attack near the West Bank settlement of Dolev, Israeli officials said. Her father and brother were also injured in the blast.
The attack Friday morning comes amid heightened tensions between Palestinians and Israelis in the lead up to Israel’s national elections next month, and against the backdrop of a broader financial dispute between the two sides that has left the Palestinian Authority struggling to pay employees.
The Israel Defense Forces said three Israeli civilians were hurt in the blast from an improvised explosive device while they were at a spring near Dolev, about 19 kilometers (12 miles) north of Jerusalem. Emergency services said the girl had died and two men, aged 46 and 20, were described as being in a serious condition.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed condolences to the family, while reiterating his government’s commitment to the settlements — a key part of his campaign strategy ahead of the national poll on Sept. 17.
Israeli troops are blocking routes and boosting their presence in the area as officers assess the situation. Netanyahu said security forces are in pursuit of the “abhorrent terrorists.”
Tensions have been exacerbated in Israel this year as the financial plight of Palestinians worsened. The Israeli government began withholding about $11 million a month, or roughly 5% of what it collects in tax on behalf of the Palestinian Authority. Israel said the money was being used to pay stipends to families of Palestinians shot dead by Israeli security forces — some after they had killed Israeli citizens — or to families of those held in Israeli prisons.
Palestinian officials, who describe the payments as welfare for families of jailed relatives, had refused to accept any funds unless they received the taxes in full. But on Thursday, the PA said it would make a
special salary payment to government staff after reaching an agreement with Israel that meant it had more to spend.
Attacks against Israelis have intensified in recent weeks. The daily Haaretz newspaper reported this week that security agencies were increasingly concerned over an outbreak of violence before Israel’s election.
(Updates with Netanyahu comment in fourth paragraph.)