JERUSALEM: The Palestinian militant group Hamas claimed responsibility Monday for a deadly shooting that left an Israeli security guard dead at the entrance of a Jewish settlement in the West Bank last week.

It was the first time Hamas has claimed such an attack targeting Israelis in the occupied West Bank since 2018. Friday evening’s attack was the latest in a long string of incidents in recent weeks. Tensions have mounted after deadly attacks on Israelis by Palestinian assailants, an Israeli military crackdown in the West Bank, and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a flashpoint Jerusalem holy site.

The site contains the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest place in Islam. It is also the holiest site for Jews, who call it the Temple Mount because it is the location of the biblical Temples destroyed in antiquity. The site is a frequent flashpoint for tensions, and violence there last year helped spark an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza militants.
“This is an episode in a series of responses by Al-Qassam Brigades to the aggression on Al-Aqsa Mosque,” Hamas’s armed wing said in a short statement.

The claim of responsibility came a day after the Israeli army spokesperson told Kann public radio that two Palestinian suspects apprehended by the military did not belong to any militant group.
Israel said Saturday that it had arrested two Palestinians suspected of carrying out the shooting that killed 23-year-old Vyacheslav Golev.

On Sunday, Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip called for more attacks against Israelis in the West Bank, saying the “real battle arena is there.” In a speech, Yehiyeh Sinwar saluted the attackers who killed the guard.