A 27-year-old Israeli-American was shot dead in the occupied West Bank as unprecedented retaliatory violence intensified in the aftermath of the deadliest Israeli raid in the area since 2005 that led to the deaths of 11 Palestinians last week.
The man was in his car when he was killed in a drive-by shooting by Palestinians on a highway near the city of Jericho on Monday, Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said.
The IDF, in a statement late on Tuesday, said the gunmen had opened fire towards a vehicle with an Israeli number plate on three occasions and set their own vehicles on fire.
Israeli police forces arrived and the gunmen fled after an exchange of fire, according to the IDF.
US ambassador to Israel Tom Nides confirmed the American citizen’s death without revealing his identity.
“Sadly, I can confirm that a US citizen was killed in one of the terror attacks in the West Bank tonight. I pray for his family,” he said in a tweet.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility by any Palestinian groups.
The drive-by comes a day after two Israeli settlers were shot and killed on Sunday in Huwara, south of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, leading to revenge violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians.
The two, identified as Hillel Menachem Yaniv, 21, and Yagel Yaakov Yaniv, 19, were killed in a drive-by as well and were brothers.
Hundreds of Israeli settlers subsequently went on a violent rampage, torching several cars and homes and damaging shops and businesses along the main thoroughfare in Hawara used by both Palestinians and Israeli settlers.
Palestinian media said about 30 homes were torched and more than 100 cars were burned during Sunday evening’s rampage.
A 37-year-old man, identified as Sameh Aqtash, was shot and killed by Israeli fire, the Palestinian health ministry said.
Two others were shot and wounded, while a third person was stabbed and a fourth was beaten with an iron bar, the Palestinian Red Crescent medical service said. More than 100 people were being treated for injuries and teargas inhalation.
Violence has continued to spiral out of control despite efforts by foreign mediators to tamp down tensions ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the Jewish Passover festival.
The escalating tensions between the two groups have put Israel’s far-right prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government in a tight spot as he maintains a balancing act between the US advocating for a two-state solution and his own cabinet of hardline settlers.
The Sunday rampage happened as a US-brokered summit had concluded at the Red Sea resort of Aqaba in Jordan. Israeli and Palestinian officials have pledged to de-escalate tensions.
Mr Netanyahu appealed for calm and peace, urging settlers to allow the Israeli military to conduct search operations to find the attackers.
“I ask that when blood is boiling and the spirit is hot, don’t take the law into your hands,” he said in a video statement.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas blamed the Israeli government for “the terrorist acts carried out by Israeli settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces”.
Palestinian militant group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said: “The crimes conducted by the occupation and the herds of settlers will not be met but with stabbing, shooting and car ramming.”
Four extra army battalions and two border police companies have been posted to the West Bank as reinforcements since Sunday, the Israeli military said.
Israeli police have arrested two people for the rampage and continues to search for the attackers. Mr Netanyahu said security forces were closing in on the gunmen who killed the Israeli brothers.
It comes days after 11 Palestinians were killed in a rare daytime raid by Israeli forces on the West Bank city of Nablus. Members of a terrorist group were targets of the raid, in which some civilians were killed and scores were injured in the deadliest operation in the West Bank since 2005.
So far this year, 63 Palestinians, including gunmen and civilians, have been killed by Israeli forces, according to Palestinian officials. Palestinian attacks have killed 13 Israelis, one of them a policeman and a Ukrainian tourist, Israel said.