BROSH: Suspected Palestinian militants bludgeoned to death a settler yesterday in the third killing of Israelis in the West Bank in as many weeks, police said, prompting calls to suspend peace talks.
The wife of the murdered man, a retired army colonel, was injured in the night-time attack on their home at the settlement of Brosh in the northern Jordan Valley.
The attack was followed by calls from right-wing Israeli MPs for the suspension of low-profile peace talks between the two sides and of the expected release of more Palestinian prisoners.
Army radio named the dead man as Sarya Ofer, a former commander of Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip and of various special forces units.
Police said Ofer’s wife had suffered minor injuries.
They also said the killing was “definitely” the work of Palestinian militants, but an army spokeswoman said it was still too early to say what the motive was.
Public radio said the couple had been in their home at about 1am when they heard a noise outside and dogs barking.
Ofer went outside to investigate and was attacked with iron bars and axes by two Palestinians, the station said. His wife Monique was also injured but escaped and raised the alarm.
The radio station said the couple lived alone at the isolated property, which they ran as a village guest house. There were no visitors at the time of the attack.
The army said roadblocks were set up in the area of the attack and, hours after the killing, security forces were still sweeping the rocky surroundings for the perpetrators.
Police said later that a number of people had been detained for questioning, although they were not necessarily murder suspects.
Army radio said five Palestinians were being interrogated.
“No one will rest until the murderers are brought to justice,” Israeli President Shimon Peres said in a statement.
Palestinian negotiator Nabil Shaath yesterday slammed what he called Israel’s unwillingness to coordinate on security. “Under our (security) agreement, the Israelis should have come to us immediately asking for security coordination” following the latest violent incidents, he said.