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Assailants Kill 5 Israelis at West Bank Settlement


Israeli troops operate in the West Bank village of Awarta, after five people were killed in the nearby Jewish settlement of Itamar, March 12, 2011

Israeli troops operate in the West Bank village of Awarta, after five people were killed in the nearby Jewish settlement of Itamar, March 12, 2011

Israel is blaming Palestinians for a grisly attack on a West Bank settlement.

Backed by helicopters, Israeli troops are searching for assailants who infiltrated a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and killed five members of the same family. The military says the Palestinian attackers broke into a house in the settlement of Itamar and stabbed to death a couple and three of their children, including an 11-year-old, a 3-year-old and a baby. The attack occurred in the middle of the night on the Jewish Sabbath.

The head of Israel's Central Command, General Avi Mizrahi, described it as a "brutal terrorist attack by despicable, cowardly murderers." Speaking to reporters at the scene, Mizrahi vowed to quickly apprehend the assailants "and bring them to justice."

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad condemned the attack, saying there can be no justification for violence, “whoever does it and whoever the victims are.” Palestinian police have joined in the search for the perpetrators.

The attack ends a period of calm in the West Bank and puts the spotlight back on the settlements, which have been a key stumbling block in the peace process. The Palestinians have refused to return to peace talks until Israel halts all settlement construction, but Israel has refused.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman plans to file a complaint with the United Nations over the attack, which he described as "the satanic murder of an entire family."

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