JERUSALEM (Dec. 2)
The West Bank seethed with tension Monday after a Jewish settler died of wounds sustained the evening before in a shooting attack on his car in the Palestinian town of El-Bireh.
Zvi Klein, 45, of Ofra, succumbed at the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem. As the news spread, the outrage of Jewish settlers turned to fury.
Large numbers of settlers gathered near the Tapuah junction, south of Nablus, determined to set up an unauthorized new settlement there in an act of defiance.
They were urged on by the Tehiya party, which ended its convention Monday in the West Bank settlement of Ariel.
A group of convention delegates headed for Tapuah to show their solidarity with the settlers, but they were blocked by Israel defense Force troops.
Two Jews were killed at the site in a bus ambush a few days before the Middle East peace conference opened in Madrid on Oct. 30.
The settlers brought two mobile homes to the spot to serve as the nucleus of a settlement. IDF soldiers, sent to ward off the provocative move, exchanged invectives with the settlers, but no clashes were reported.
Other soldiers, meanwhile, combed the area around the twin cities of Ramallah and El-Bireh, northeast of Jerusalem, which have been under curfew since Monday night.
They are searching for the gunmen who attacked Klein, but also for others who may have helped them by stoning his car to slow it down.
The attack may have been linked to the peace talks scheduled to open in Washington on Wednesday, though Israel is not planning to send its delegation until next Monday.