Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to strengthen the settlement in Hebron after an IDF soldier was killed by a sniper Sunday while guarding one of the city’s holy sites during Sukkot, Haaretz reports.
Staff Sergeant Gabriel Kobi, 20, whose killer is still at large, was the second IDF soldier to be killed in the West Bank over the weekend. On Friday, Tomer Hazan, 20, was abducted and killed by a Palestinian man he worked with at a Tel Aviv restaurant. On Saturday, 42-year-old Nedal Amar confessed to Israeli authorities that he killed Hazan and dumped his body in a well, intending to use his body parts to negotiate the freedom of his brother, who was jailed in 2003 for his connection to terrorist activity.
Soldiers swarmed Hebron Monday in search of Kobi’s killer, detaining two suspects. In response to the killings, Netanyahu ordered the IDF to allow settlers to return to a contested house near the Tomb of Patriarchs in Hebron, where the soldier was killed:
Anyone who tries to uproot us from the city of our patriarchs will achieve the opposite. We will continue to fight terrorism…with one hand, while strengthening the settlement with the other.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas sang a different tune while in New York for the UN General Assembly. Speaking to a group of Jewish leaders Monday, Abbas condemned the violence and insisted peace talks and a two-state solution were within reach:
We need your support to ensure the successful conclusion of the peace negotiations so that the state of Palestine can live side by side with the State of Israel in peace and security on the 1967 borders. I urge the Israeli government to focus on building peace and not building settlements.
Earlier Monday, Fatah central committee member Abbas Zaki blamed Netanyahu’s “extreme government” for the attacks.
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Rachel Silberstein is a writer living in New York.