HEBRON—At least fifteen people are dead and fifteen more wounded after a shooting attack Friday evening, November 15th, at 7:15pm. Palestinian gunmen opened fire and threw grenades at a group of Israeli settlers and soldiers walking to the Israeli settlement of Kiryat Arba after Shabbat services at the synagogue in the Tomb of the Patriarchs/Ibrahimi Mosque complex. The dead include nine Israeli soldiers and border policemen, three armed Israeli settler security, and three Palestinians believed to have perpetrated the attack. Colonel Dror Weinberg, commander of the Israeli forces in Hebron, was one of the victims. At least five of the wounded are soldiers in serious condition according to reports received by the team. The Palestinian militia Islamic Jihad has confirmed responsibility for the attack, claiming retribution for the Israeli military assassination of its leader Iyad Sawalha in Jenin late last week.

The Israeli military responded to the attack with several hours of firing at Palestinian areas with machine guns, tanks, and helicopter-mounted artillery. The military also used a bulldozer to demolish two Palestinian homes near the site of the shooting. It is not yet clear how the homes demolished were connected to the attack. At least five Palestinians were arrested according to local news reports.

News reports also indicate the Israeli cabinet is meeting to discuss plans for further retaliation to the attack. The Israeli-controlled areas of Hebron are under tight curfew, and shops in other areas of town are closed in anticipation of a large-scale invasion.

CPTers Le Anne Clausen, Bob Holmes, Jerry Levin, and Quaker Peace and Witness Service (QPWS) member John Lynes walked to the site of the attack, conveying their sorrow and condolences to Israeli settlers and soldiers gathered nearby, as well as to Palestinian families at the site of the home demolitions. Team members observed the bodies of the suspected gunmen being held by the Israeli military in a field nearby. As team members watched, soldiers placed a cover over one of the bodies and attempted to put it on a stretcher for transport. The CPTers also observed soldiers carrying out searches of Palestinian houses in the neighborhood. Later team members Rick Polhamus, Mary Yoder, and Christine Caton delivered a letter of condolence to the Israeli military base in Hebron. The Israeli victims are expected to be buried at sunset Saturday at the end of Shabbat. Team members intend to stay the night with Palestinian civilian families in areas which may be targeted for retribution attacks.

The Christian Peacemaker Team in Hebron strongly condemns this night of violence and calls on both sides to end the cycle of revenge before more lives are needlessly lost. CPT believes that neither the killing of armed persons nor civilians advances the cause of peace. Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of all who were killed, for the recovery of those injured, and for a just and lasting peace in this region.

For more information, please contact the CPT Hebron office at 972-2-222-8485. Photos of the attack site and home demolitions are available at www.clubphoto.com Login as 'cpt@igc.org.'