Beit Al Maqdis Brigades, a recently formed group, claimed responsibility for Sunday’s Gush Etzion shooting attack which left three settlers dead and five injured.

The Arabs48 news website reported that it received a statement from the group claiming responsibility for the shooting which marks “its first armed attack,’ according to the statement.

“Our fighters fired rounds of live ammunition at soldiers and settlers on Gush Etzion road”, the group stated, “The armed group managed to flee unharmed”.

Also, the group added that it wasn’t able to claim responsibility directly after the shooting as a result of miscommunication”.

Three settlers killed, five injured near Hebron Saed Bannoura – IMEMC & Agencies – Sunday, 16 October 2005

An Israeli military source reported, on Sunday afternoon, that three settlers were killed, at least three others were injured in a shooting incident carried out by a Palestinian armed group which opened fire on a hitchhiking station at the Gush Etzion junction, near the West Bank city of Hebron.

The source stated that the shooting was carried out by an armed group traveling in a speeding car. The group apparently escaped to the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the source added.

The killed and injured Israelis were transferred to Hadassah University Hospital in Jerusalem.

Israeli soldiers closed the Tunnel Road between Jerusalem and Gush Etzion immediately after the attack, and initiated military searches.

The Israeli online daily Ynentnews reported that a Palestinian identifying himself as a member of Al Aqsa Brigades, the military wing of Fateh, claimed responsibility for the attack in a phone call.

The Israeli Radio also reported that the attack was carried out by Al Aqsa brigades.

“This attack comes in response to the Israeli crimes”, the member said, “It comes in retaliation to the killing of Palestinians in Nablus and Tulkarem”.

Meanwhile, Israeli military sources in the West Bank said that the attack may have been carried out by Hamas not Fateh, in response to the latest arrests carried out by the army against the group.

Earlier on Sunday, Khaled al Batsh, a political leader of the Islamic Jihad movement, said that Palestinian resistance will retaliate fast to the death of three Palestinian youth killed by the army in the Gaza Strip.