An Israeli-American citizen was killed in the occupied West Bank as tensions in the region escalated after a weekend of violence.
Elan Ganeles, 27, was shot dead Monday evening in what the Israeli emergency service Magen David Adom (MDA) described as a “terror attack” on a highway between Jericho and the Dead Sea.
The attack took place on Route 90, north of the Beit Ha’Arava Junction, the MDA said. The location is normally quiet and on one of the main routes for Israelis to visit the Dead Sea.
Ganeles was visiting Israel for a friend’s wedding and living in the United States, friends of his told CNN on Tuesday. His synagogue in Connecticut said he would be buried in Israel on Wednesday.
Steve Charter, the manager of a Hebrew language program Ganeles attended, told CNN on Tuesday that Ganeles was “a very nice guy, a gentleman … the type of guy you want to date your daughter.” Charter said Ganeles attended the five-month course at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in 2015 before joining the Israeli army.
After completing his national service, he returned to the United States to study at Columbia University, Charter said.
“He wanted to celebrate his friend’s wedding, see his friends and go back to America,” added Michael Landau, a friend of Ganeles from the Hebrew program. “He was on his way to a friend when he was killed.”
Landau said Ganeles was aware of the security situation in Israel and the West Bank, but seemed unconcerned about it. “He’s lived here in the past, so he understands the situation,” Landau said. “He never expressed any concern that anything was going on.”
The US State Department confirmed that an Israeli-American citizen had been killed and said it was “extremely concerned about this weekend’s events and the ongoing violence in Israel and the West Bank.”
Ganeles’ death came after a mob of Israeli settlers went on a rampage Sunday in Huwara, south of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, killing a Palestinian, beating others with metal bars and stone a Palestinian fire engine after several homes in were set on fire.
Those attacks followed the fatal shooting of two Israeli brothers in Huwara earlier on Sunday, days after a massive Israeli military raid on Nablus in pursuit of wanted militants killed at least 11 Palestinians.
State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday reiterated US condemnation of the weekend killings of Israelis and settler violence against Palestinians.
“We appreciate the Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and President [Isaac] Herzog’s statements calling for an end to vigilante violence. We expect the Israeli government to ensure full accountability and legal prosecution of those responsible for these attacks, as well as compensation for the homes and property lost,” Price said. “These events underline the fragility of the situation in the West Bank and the urgent need for greater cooperation to prevent further violence.”
An Israel Defense Forces official condemned Sunday’s attacks by Israeli settlers as acts of “revenge” and “terror”, saying the IDF would send three additional battalions to the area to try to de-escalate the situation.