West Bank bomb: 4 Israelis killed

A Palestinian man posing as an Israeli hitchhiker in the West Bank detonated explosives Thursday inside a car that had apparently picked him up, killing four Israelis and himself. The blast occurred near Qedumim, a settlement of roughly 3,000 Israelis in the northern West Bank, just before 10 p.m.

Details of how the attack transpired remained murky late Thursday, but it appeared that the bomber employed a new tactic. Police and settlement officials said he wore a large knit skullcap, a type favored by observant Jews, who account for many of the settlers in the area.

Hitchhiking is a common method of travel for young settlers in the West Bank, and the bomber likely received a ride from the people he later killed.

A splinter group of the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades from the Balata refugee camp in Nablus, east of the settlement, asserted responsibility for the attack. The group, which is the armed wing of Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, identified the bomber as Mahmoud Masharka, 24, from near the city of Hebron in the southern West Bank.

Thursday's attack was the first suicide bombing carried out by the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades since it agreed to a cease-fire in February 2005. It came on a day when the radical Islamic group Hamas, Fatah's chief political rival, assumed control of Palestinian ministries following its parliamentary election victory in January.

All other suicide bombings in the past year have been carried out by Islamic Jihad, a radical group with financial ties to Iran, reports Washington Post.


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