JERUSALEM, March 26 (JTA) A 10-month-old Jewish girl has become the latest victim of the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Israel sealed off the West Bank city of Hebron after Palestinian gunmen killed Shalhevet Pass.
Shalhevet was with her father, Yitzhak, when Palestinian snipers opened fire on Hebron’s Avraham Avinu compound from the Palestinian neighborhood of Abu Sneineh, which overlooks the settler compound.
Shalhevet, who was shot in the head, is the youngest victim of the six- month-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. She was the first Jewish civilian casualty in Hebron since violence erupted last September.
Her father was also injured.
Israeli forces responded by firing with tanks and machine guns at the Palestinian neighborhood.
One commentator noted that it was unlikely Israel would immediately unleash a harsher response, out of concern for preventing an escalation ahead of an Arab League summit in Jordan later this week.
Hebron, which is split between Israeli and Palestinian control, has long been a flash point because the city’s Jewish and Palestinian populations live side by side.
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Defense Minister Benjamin Ben- Eliezer ordered that Hebron be sealed off and a curfew imposed on Abu Sneineh after they consulted with Israeli security officials.
Sharon said the Palestinian Authority bears direct responsibility for Shalhevet’s murder.
Legislator Shaul Yahalom of the National Religious Party called on Sharon to order Israeli forces into Abu Sneineh to assassinate those responsible for the attack.
“If Sharon does not do this, he will prove he is undeserving of the position for which he was overwhelmingly elected: to restore security to Israel’s residents,” Yahalom said.
The head of Israel’s Peace Now movement condemned the attack and called for the removal of all Jewish settlers from Hebron.