by Emad Drimly, Saud Abu Ramadam
RAMALLAH, March 12 (Xinhua) -- The early Saturday attack on the Jewish settlement of Itamar near the northern West Bank city of Nablus, where five Israelis were killed, outraged Israel despite an official Palestinian condemnation of the attack.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Israeli Radio that Israel "won't remain silent for this terrorist attack that occurred into the settlement of Itamar," adding that "the assailants would be punished and Israel would firmly work to protect the lives of its citizens."
He asked the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) to help Israel arrest those behind the attack on the settlement. In the meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the security forces to act as soon as possible to arrest those who committed the attack.
The Israeli army command of central Israeli Maj. Gen Avi Mezrahi told the Israel Radio that the hands of Israel will reach the assailants. He said that those who carried out the attack "are cowards who killed an innocent family in the darkness."
Tzibi Livni, leader of Israeli opposition also said that the entire people in Israel "feel the pain following the horrible attack in Itamar, adding she supports an Israeli army action against terror. Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman urged the country's representative in the UN to apply official complaint.
Israel hasn't officially accused the Palestinians of being behind the attack, while Lieberman was quoted by the Israel Radio as saying that he expects many statements of condemnation in all democratic countries which always condemn Israel when it violates human rights.
Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the groups of martyr Emad Mughneyeh, said in a leaflet sent to reporters that it claims responsibility for the attack, adding that "one of its fighters who carried out the attack which was a revenge for the massacres committed by the Zionist occupation against our people."
Meanwhile, the PNA had official condemned the attack and rejected all actions of violence no matter who is behind it and who are the victims. PNA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in Beit Jalla near Bethlehem in the West Bank that "there is no doubt about our position concerning violence which we reject."
"Yes I say this concerning what happened overnight in the settlement of Itamar, where one infant, two children and parents were killed. Exactly as we always say we reject violence against our people, we also reject this violence and we condemn it," said Fayyad.
He went on saying that violence can never justify violence whatever the reasons are or whoever commit it or are its victims. However, PNA Minister of Foreign Affairs Riyad al-Malki doubted that Palestinian militants were behind the attack. He rejected any accusations.
"Killing an infant and slaughtering four other people from the same family in such a way had never been done by a Palestinian under any name for revenge. This would leave so many question marks on why the Israelis had immediately accused the Palestinians of committing it," said al-Malki.
However, Palestinian factions hailed the attack in the settlement of Itamar. The Islamic Jihad (Holy War) movement said it is "a heroic attack," adding that "this attack is a proof that the Palestinians are able to go ahead with armed resistance and overcome all difficulties to reach the targets."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and the Islamic Hamas movement which rules the Gaza Strip didn't comment on the attack, where five Israeli settlers, including a father, a mother, two boys and one infant were slaughtered.
In the West Bank, occupied by Israel in 1967, there are some half a million settlers living in 120 Jewish settlements, with two million Palestinians.