Israeli forces search for killer of soldier; second to die in two days

Sept. 23, 2013 at 5:41 AM
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JERUSALEM, Sept. 23 (UPI) -- Israeli security forces searched Monday for a suspected Palestinian sniper in the shooting death of an Israeli soldier, the second killed in two days.

The victim, Sgt. Gal Kobi, 20, of Tirat Hacarmel, was shot in the neck at a checkpoint near the Machpela Cave in Hebron Sunday night.

Earlier in the weekend, 42-year-old Palestinian Nidal Amer led security forces to a well near Kalkilya where he dumped the body of another Israeli soldier, Sgt. Tomer Hazan, Friday after luring him to the site, the army said.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon said he would convene an emergency security Cabinet meeting Monday to discuss the killings, said.

"Those who try to uproot us from Hebron, the city of our forefathers, will only achieve the opposite," Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said. "We will continue to fight terrorism with one hand and strengthen settlements with the other."

The soldiers' deaths led to calls within the government to halt peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon was among officials who wanted to stop the talks, saying the Palestinians were not a partner for peace, Channel 2 reported.

Minister of Trade and Commerce Naftali Bennet asked Netanyahu to reconsider releasing more Palestinian prisoners as part of the peace-talk process that started in June. Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners in four stages over a nine-month negotiating period. Twenty-six already have been freed.

"While the release of terrorists was a precondition for negotiations, unfortunately there is no doubt that developments since the beginning of talks demand the government rethink its position," Bennet said in a letter to Netanyahu, The Times of Israel reported.

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