Israeli settler bludgeoned to death in West Bank: police

Israeli settler bludgeoned to death in West Bank: police
File photo shows Israeli soldiers standing guard.

BROSH, Palestinian Territories - An Israeli settler was bludgeoned to death Friday by suspected Palestinian militants, police said, in the third violent attack on Israelis in the West Bank within as many weeks.

The attack, in which the retired army colonel's wife escaped with minor injuries, prompted rightwing Israeli MPs to call for the suspension of low profile peace talks between the two sides and of the expected release of more Palestinian prisoners.

"They were beaten with blunt instruments," at Brosh, in the northern Jordan Valley, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.

Army radio named the dead man as Sharia Ofer, a former commander of Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip and of various special forces units.

Police said Ofer's wife had been injured, and that they believed the killing was "definitely" the work of Palestinian militants.

An army spokeswoman said however it was still too early to say what the motive was.

Public radio said the couple were in their home at about 1:00 am (2200 GMT) when they heard a noise outside and the sound of dogs barking.

Ofer went outside to investigate and was attacked with iron bars and axes by two Palestinians, it reported. His wife, Monique, was also injured but escaped and raised the alarm.

The radio said the couple lived alone at the isolated property, which they ran as a village guest house. There were no visitors at the time of the attack.

News website Ynet cited a witness as saying that as she was taken to an ambulance, Monique Ofer cried out, "Leave me, go to him, help him".

Local council leader David Elhayani said he reached the scene about half an hour after the assault.

"It was a brutal murder," he told public radio.

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