At least two Israelis were killed and five wounded Sunday night, when terrorists ambushed a bus traveling from the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba to Jerusalem.
Israel Radio reported that the gunmen were traveling in a car that overtook an Egged bus as it approached an intersection at the entrance to Hebron, close to Kiryat Arba.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, which took place about 8 p.m. local times, but officials reportedly believe that Palestinians opposed to the peace process were involved.
The attack came after several weeks of quiet and after Israeli and Palestinian negotiators had recently reported progress in their efforts to expand Palestinian autonomy in the West Bank.
Israeli settlers reportedly ransacked several Palestinian shops in Hebron before the Israeli army imposed a curfew and began searching for those who carried out the attack, witnesses said.
After preliminary medical treatment at the site, the wounded were flown by helicopter to nearby hospitals.
The Israeli government had imposed a closure on the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the wake of a double suicide bombing near Netanya in January. The government had been gradually easing the closure and on Sunday, prior to the latest attack, officials announced that 3,000 more Palestinians would be issued entry permits to work in Israel. This brings the total number of workers allowed in from the territories to 25,000.
Also Sunday, Israeli police reportedly found the bodies of two Arabs who were killed by an explosion near the West Bank town of Jenin. The authorities said the two had apparently been building a bomb that went off prematurely.