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1 Israeli soldier killed, 3 injured in West Bank

Following the attack, Israeli forces closed the entrances to a number of Palestinian towns in the northern West Bank

An Israeli soldier was killed in a shooting in the northern West Bank on Sunday, according to Israeli authorities.

A military statement said a Palestinian stabbed and killed an Israeli soldier at the entrance of the illegal Ariel settlement before taking his weapon, which he used to wound another soldier and an Israeli settler.

The incident began at an intersection near Ariel, a large settlement, where the Palestinian, using the Israeli soldier's gun, fired at three vehicles, hitting a civilian, the Israeli military said.

He then took a car, driving it to another nearby junction where he shot a second soldier before continuing on to a nearby Palestinian village.

It was not immediately clear if more than one assailant was involved. Israeli settler officials identified the wounded civilian as a local rabbi. Hospital officials said he was in critical condition.

Israel's national emergency agency, Megan David Adom, said one Israeli was killed and three others critically injured in the attack.

Israeli forces launched a manhunt for the attacker.

READ: Al-Rahma Gate is the gate of uprising

Following the attack, Israeli forces closed the entrances to a number of Palestinian towns in the northern West Bank, according to local residents.

In public remarks at the weekly cabinet meeting, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke of "several assailants", saying: "Security forces are pursuing the attackers. I am certain they will be apprehended."

Sunday's attack came amid rising tension in Jerusalem since last month when Israeli police briefly sealed the Al-Aqsa Mosque's Rahma Gate, sparking angry Palestinian demonstrations. Earlier today, the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court accepted a request by the Israeli attorney-general to extend the closure of the mosque, prompting further outrage from Palestinians.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Sheikh Ekrema Sabri, the head of the council, described the court decision as "invalid".

"We consider that Al-Aqsa Mosque is not subject to any decision issued by Israeli courts," Sabri said, adding:

We will not abide by any Israeli decision related to the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

The Bab al-Rahma Mosque was first closed by the Israeli authorities in 2003. In 2017, an Israeli court renewed the closure order.

In mid-February, Jerusalem's Religious Endowments Authority (a Jordan-run agency mandated with overseeing the city's Islamic and Christian holy sites) reopened the mosque following Palestinian protests.

In the weeks since, the Israeli authorities have banned scores of Palestinians – including religious officials – from entering the Al-Aqsa, which for Muslims represents the world's third holiest site.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, in which the Al-Aqsa is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. It annexed the entire city in 1980 in a move never recognised by the international community.

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