Unlike Gaza, where Israeli forces have killed scores of Palestinians during often-violent protests along the border fence in recent months, the West Bank has remained relatively calm. Analysts have warned of a spillover of tensions, however.
Israeli forces shot and killed three Palestinians on Friday, including Fares Hafez al-Sersawi, a 12-year-old boy, according to the Gaza Health Ministry.
Last month, a Palestinian teenager fatally stabbed Ari Fuld, a resident of the West Bank settlement of Efrat, at the Gush Etzion shopping center. Mr. Fuld, who was well known for his pro-Israel advocacy, was hailed as a hero by many Israelis for possibly helping to save other lives after security cameras showed him chasing and shooting at his assailant after being stabbed in the back.
Colonel Conricus said that the assailant on Sunday appeared to have acted alone, operating without the backing of any known organization, and that he had been armed with an improvised weapon known as a Carlo. Named after the Swedish-made Carl Gustav submachine gun from the 1950s, Carlos are sometimes adapted from air guns in West Bank workshops.
The West Bank settlements, constructed in territory that Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 war, and which the Palestinians envision as part of their state, are considered a violation of international law by most of the world.
But many Israelis, particularly the settler leadership, hold up the Barkan industrial park, where the attack took place on Sunday, as a model of cooperation and an important source of employment for thousands of Palestinians, who work in more than 150 factories and firms alongside an equal number of Israelis for equal salaries.
Moshe Lev-Ran, an export manager at Twitto Plus, a company specializing in air-conditioning accessories and whose factory is next to the site of the attack, told reporters that the Palestinian employees “come happily to work because we provide them with a future and food.”
Describing annual company fun days and barbecues, he added, “I call it the island of peace.”