An American citizen was killed in the West Bank on Monday amid ongoing violence in the region, according to U.S. officials.
The American was killed when a Palestinian gunman opened fire near the West Bank city of Jericho on Monday, hours after Israel deployed hundreds more soldiers to the occupied West Bank amid escalating tensions.
On Sunday, after a Palestinian gunman killed two Israeli brothers, a large group of settlers torched Palestinian homes and cars in the West Bank city of Hawara. One Palestinian was killed in those attacks and dozens were wounded, according to medics and the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
“We condemn the horrific killing of two Israeli brothers near Nablus, and the killing today of an Israeli near Jericho who we understand was also an American citizen,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said during a briefing Monday. “We express our deepest condolences to all of the victims’ families and their loved ones.”
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides tweeted on Monday that a U.S. citizen was killed “in one of the terror attacks in the West Bank tonight.”
“I pray for his family,” Nides wrote.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appealed for calm in response to the violence on Sunday, saying: “I ask that when blood is boiling and the spirit is hot, don’t take the law into your hands.”
The leader of Israel’s opposition Labor Party called the rampage by settlers Sunday “a pogrom by armed militias,” The Associated Press reported.
Sunday’s violence began when a Palestinian gunman shot and killed two brothers from a nearby settlement — Yagel and Hillel Yaniv — while they were in the West Bank town of Hawara. The shooter fled the scene.
Groups of Israeli settlers then set fires and threw stones along a main road in Hawara, torching dozens of cars and buildings.
One Palestinian man, Sameh Hamdallah Mahmoud Aqtash, was killed by an Israeli gunshot Sunday, the Palestinian Ministry of Health said. His brother said he was shot by an Israeli soldier, but the IDF denied this, according to CBS News partner network BBC News.
“They didn’t leave anything. They even threw tear gas bombs,” Sultan Farouk Abu Sris, a store owner in Hawara, told the AP about the settler mob violence. “It’s destruction. They came bearing hatred.”
“My mother moved us to a corner because there was no safe place,” 10-year-old Lamar Abusarees told the Reuters news agency. “They broke all the windows while we were inside.”
The area of the West Bank where the rampage took place is under full Israeli control, and some Palestinians criticized the Israeli authorities for not protecting them from the settlers, BBC News reported.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said he held the Israeli government responsible for “the terrorist acts carried out by Israeli settlers, under the protection of the Israeli occupation forces,” according to the BBC.
Despite another member of his ultra-right-wing party praising the violence as a deterrent for future Palestinian attacks, ultra-nationalist National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir said “I understand the hard feelings, but this isn’t the way. We can’t take the law into our hands,” the AP reported.
Over the weekend, the Jordanian government hosted talks between Israeli and Palestinian officials aimed at curbing violence that has escalated for weeks ahead of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins in late March.