After the attack.(Haaretz/Lior Mizrachi)

Four Israeli residents of the southern West Bank settlement of Beit Hagai—two men and two women, two couples (one woman was pregnant)—were killed today (tonight in Israel) by gunfire as they drove near the entrance of nearby settlement Kiryat Arba. The two settlements are near Hebron, well inside the security barrier that surrounds most of the West Bank.

Though the IDF is unsure about the attack’s specifics—how organized it was, whether the murderers were roadside or in another car—it’s obviously impossible not to see it in the context of the Israeli-Palestinian direct talks scheduled to kick off tomorrow night in Washington, D.C.

An Israeli Embassy spokesperson there told reporters, “The timing of this is deliberate—to try and derail the Palestinians and all those who seek peace in the region from coming and sitting down at the negotiating table with Israel.” He also pointed to the incident as evidence that Israel would require considerable security guarantees before acceding to a Palestinian state.

Four Killed as Terrorists Open Fire Near Kiryat Arba [JPost]
Four Israelis Killed in Shooting Attack Near Hebron [Haaretz]
Before Talks, An Attack [Ben Smith]