Days before Palestinian elections were scheduled to be held, two Israelis were shot and killed in an ambush in the West Bank town of Hebron.
In Tuesday’s attack, an Israeli army doctor and his driver died after being fired upon in their vehicle by unknown assailants at a junction on the route to the settlement of Kiryat Arba.
Hebron is the only Palestinian population center in the West Bank that will have Israeli troops in the area when voting takes place Saturday for Palestinian Council.
No group claimed responsibility for the incident.
The army reportedly closed off the area shortly after the ambush, which took place one day after an Israeli was moderately wounded in a shooting attack on the outskirts of the West Bank town of Bethlehem.
The wounded man, a religious Jew, was shot and wounded in a ceramics shop near Rachel’s Tomb in an area patrolled by Palestinian police.
He was taken to a hospital in Jerusalem, where he underwent surgery.
The Israeli army declared Bethlehem, which was handed over to the Palestinians on Dec. 21, a closed military zone and barred Israelis from traveling through it.
connection with the attack near Bethlehem. The three suspects, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian, which opposes the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, were arrested near the Dehaishe refugee camp in Bethlehem.
Meanwhile, security procedures for the voting in Hebron provoked differences between Israeli and Palestinian officials.
Saeb Erekat, the Palestinian official in charge of the elections, told Israeli officials Tuesday that he had expected Israeli troops to withdraw temporarily from Hebron while the voting was being conducted.
An army redeployment from parts of Hebron is not scheduled until March.
But Maj. Gen. Ilan Biran, the commander in charge of an area that includes the West Bank, reportedly told Erekat that there would be no temporary redeployment.
He also called on the Palestinians to locate the polling stations away from the town’s Jewish enclaves, where some 400 Jewish settlers live among about, 100,000 Palestinians.
In another development, Jerusalem Police Chief Aryeh Amit said he had received information that Jewish right-wing activists were planning to disrupt the voting at poll stations located in post offices in eastern Jerusalem.
Amit said that several thousand police would be stationed in the city to prevent any clashes.
“My working assumption is that right-wing activists and opposition Palestinians will try to disrupt the voting,” Amit said.
The Yesha Council, which represents Jewish settlers in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, denied that any violent disruptions were planned.