March 19, 2019 7:22 pm

Israeli forces shoot dead Palestinian militant accused of killing 2 Israelis in West Bank

An Israeli soldier guards near the scene of Sunday's attack near the Jewish settlement of Ariel, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 18, 2019.

REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Israeli forces have killed a 19-year-old Palestinian man who was accused of killing two Israelis — a soldier and a civilian — in an attack near the West Bank city of Ariel on Sunday.

In a tweet, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu congratulated his forces for killing the “vile terrorist,” identified by Israeli media as Omar Abu Lila.

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Abu Lila was killed following an exchange of gunfire with Israel Defence Forces (IDF) personnel in the Palestinian village of Abwain, Haaretz reported. No Israeli soldiers were believed to have been injured during the incident.

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Abu Lila is suspected of fatally stabbing 19-year-old IDF soldier Gal Keidan on Sunday before stealing his assault rifle and driving to a major junction, where he started shooting.

At the junction, Abu Lila was confronted by 47-year-old rabbi Ahiad Ettinger, who managed to fire a few shots from his personal sidearm before he was gunned down, the Jerusalem Post reported. He succumbed to his wounds on Monday.

Ettinger, a father of 12, lived in a West Bank settlement and headed a religious seminary in Tel Aviv.

“Rabbi Ettinger’s life’s work will continue and be among us even after his passing, and the strength he gave his pupils and the community he led will continue to strengthen us through the enormous grief and sorrow,” said Israeli President Reuven Rivlin.

Relatives and friends mourn as they sit next to the body of Israeli rabbi Achiad Ettinger, wrapped in a Jewish prayer shawl, during his funeral, in the Jewish settlement of Eli in the Israeli-occupied West Bank March 18, 2019.

REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

The Israeli military said it had surveyed Abu Lila’s home for future demolition.

Israel often demolishes homes of alleged Palestinian assailants or their families as a policy it says deters future attacks.

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In what appeared to be a separate incident, the Palestinian health ministry said two more Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli soldiers near the West Bank city of Nablus.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said the report was being looked into.

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Since 2015, Palestinians have killed over 50 Israelis in stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks in the West Bank. Israeli forces have killed more than 260 Palestinians in that same period.

Israel has described most of the Palestinians killed as attackers, but clashes between protesters and soldiers have also turned deadly.

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Middle East war. Palestinians seek to establish a state there and in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as its capital.

— With files from the Associated Press and Reuters

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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