JERUSALEM // A nine-year-old Jewish girl was seriously injured in a suspected Palestinian militant attack while playing outside her home on Saturday in a settlement in the West Bank, Israeli police said.
Initial reports indicated the attack was carried out by a sniper but police said they were investigating all options, including the possibility that the Psagot settlement was infiltrated by a Palestinian militant.
Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said residents were told to stay indoors while searches are under way.
Danny Fink, a surgeon at Shaarei Tzedek hospital in Jerusalem, told Channel 2 TV that the girl was fully conscious when she was rushed in.
“According to what the girl said the terrorist was at close range,” he said, adding that it wasn’t yet clear if the girl had sustained a bullet wound or a knife attack.
Psagot spokesman David Tzviel told the station that the girl’s family lives at the edge of the community near its security fence. He said the most likely scenario was that a Palestinian militant penetrated the settlement. The girl described being attacked by a man with a black mask, he said.
Tensions are high between Israelis and Palestinians in the area.
An Israeli soldier was recently shot and killed by a sniper in the West Bank city of Hebron. And in a separate incident an Israeli soldier was lured to the West Bank and killed by a Palestinian who wanted to trade the body for his brother who is serving time in an Israeli jail for shooting and bomb attacks.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his cabinet that he holds the Palestinian Authority responsible for yesterday’s attack and what he called the continuing “incitement” in official Palestinian media.
The spike in violence adds to the mistrust between Israel and the Palestinians as the two sides hold negotiations that restarted this summer after a hiatus of nearly five years. Talks collapsed in 2008, and US secretary of state John Kerry spent months early this year persuading the sides to get talks back on track again. Israel says security concerns are a top priority in negotiations.
Earlier Saturday, a Palestinian farmer said vandals from another Israeli settlement in the West Bank damaged more than 100 olive trees as the annual harvest of the important crop begins.
Yasser Fukha said he saw residents of Shavei Shomron driving near the farm earlier this week and later found the trees damaged.
Palestinians view the crop as a symbol of their connection to the land. Every year they say settlers target their trees.
Rosenfeld said Israeli police are looking into the report. The military said forces were sent to the scene to investigate.