Tensions between Israel and Palestine: US citizen killed in the West Bank


A US citizen of Israeli origin was killed in occupied West Bank as tensions in the region continued ratchet up after a weekend of violence.

Elan Ganeles, 27, was shot dead on Monday evening in what Israel’s Magen David Adom (MDA) emergency services called a “terrorist attack” on a highway between Jericho and the Dead Sea.

According to the MDA, the attack took place on Route 90 north of the Beit HaArava junction. The place is usually calm and is on one of the main routes of visiting the Dead Sea by Israelis.

Ganeles came to Israel for a friend’s wedding and lived in the United States, his friends told CNN on Tuesday. His synagogue in Connecticut said he will be buried in Israel on Wednesday.

Steve Charter, manager of the Hebrew program that Ganeles attended, told CNN on Tuesday that Ganeles was “a really nice guy, a gentleman… the kind of guy you want your daughter to date.” Charter said Ganeles completed a five-month course at Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu in 2015 before joining the Israeli army.

Israeli security forces inspect a car riddled with bullets after an Israeli-American citizen was shot dead near Jericho in the occupied West Bank on February 27.

After completing his military service, Charter said he returned to the United States to study at Columbia University.

“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 Jewish 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 did not appear to be concerned about it. “He lived here in the past, so he understands the situation,” Landau said. “He never expressed any concern that something was going on.”

The US State Department confirmed that an Israeli-American citizen had been killed and said it was “extremely concerned about the events of this weekend and the ongoing violence in Israel and the West Bank.”

Ganeles’ death came after crowd of Israeli settlers rioted on Sunday in Huwara, south of Nablus in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, killing one Palestinian, beating others with metal bars and throwing stones at a Palestinian fire engine after several houses were set on fire.

The attacks follow the killing of two Israeli brothers earlier Sunday in Huwara, days after a massive Israeli military raid into Nablus looking for wanted militants that killed at least 11 Palestinians.

State Department spokesman Ned Price on Monday confirmed that the US condemns the killings of Israelis over the weekend and settler violence against Palestinians.

“We appreciate the Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu and the President [Isaac] Duke’s statements calling for an end to vigilante violence. We expect the Israeli government to ensure that those responsible for these attacks are held fully accountable and prosecuted, in addition to compensating for lost homes and property,” Price said. “These developments highlight the fragility of the situation in the West Bank and the urgent need for greater cooperation to prevent further violence.”

An IDF spokesman condemned Sunday’s attacks by Israeli settlers as acts of “revenge” and “terror” and said the IDF had sent three additional battalions to the area to try to defuse the situation.