The children — ages 9, 7, 4 and 4 months — were in the back seat and were unharmed, the Magen David Adom ambulance service said. The victims were identified as Eitam and Naama Henkin, in their 30s, residents of the West Bank settlement of Neria.
Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a spokesman for the Israeli military, posted photographs of the parents and their bloodied car on Twitter and said in a statement that the military was working to find “those responsible for this ruthless, heinous, barbaric attack. The military announced that it was deploying four extra battalions to the West Bank “to prevent an escalation of violence” as the Israeli news media reported that Jewish settlers were throwing rocks at Palestinian vehicles on roads near where the attack occurred, close to the Jewish settlement of Itamar and the Palestinian village of Beit Furik.
Hamas, the Islamic militant group that controls Gaza, praised the shootings without claiming responsibility. “A greeting of glory and pride to the heroes who perpetrated this brave attack,” Iyad al-Buzom, a spokesman for the Hamas-run interior ministry in Gaza, wrote on his Facebook page.
He added, “The blood of Zionist settlers is not more valuable than the blood of Dawabsheh and Hashlamoun,” referring to the Palestinian victims of an arson attack in July in the West Bank village of Duma and to an 18-year-oldwoman fatally shot by Israeli soldiers in Hebron last month.
While a relative calm has prevailed in the West Bank in recent years, there have been periodic attacks against Israelis on the roads.
Palestinians fatally shot Malakhi Rosenfeld, 26, in June as he returned home from a basketball game with friends. Two weeks earlier, another Israeli, Danny Gonen, 25, was killed after visiting a West Bank spring. And two weeks ago, Alexander Levlovich, 64, died after Palestinians pelted his car with stones in East Jerusalem, causing him to crash.
The attack Thursday came soon after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel addressed the United Nations General Assembly and accused President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority of “rejectionism” because of his refusal to resume direct negotiations with Israel with no preconditions.
On Wednesday, Mr. Abbas told the General Assembly that his people would no longer be bound by mutual agreements with Israel if Israel continued to violate them.
Underscoring the deep disconnect between the sides, the Israeli news media reported that Palestinians in the West Bank city of Nablus were celebrating the killings, and a post by a Facebook group that follows news in the Balata refugee camp in Nablus read, “If only the child Ahmad Dawabsheh had been able to hear the sound of the bullets that burned the settlers’ car and tore apart their bodies, he would smile in joy.”
Ahmad Dawabsheh, 4, remains hospitalized after the arson attack in Duma that killed his parents and 18-month-old brother. Jewish extremists are suspected in the fire.
Israeli politicians from across the political spectrum condemned the Henkins’ killings, with those on the right squarely blaming Mr. Abbas.
Mr. Netanyahu said in a statement that such attacks result from “wild Palestinian incitement.”
Tzipi Livni, a former foreign minister who is a leading member of the opposition Zionist Union party, said, “The people of Israel hug the children who have lost their parents,” and she condemned the killings as an act of “loathsome and despicable terrorism.”
A neighbor of the Henkins, Shlomit Yaakobi, described them to Israel’s Channel 2 news as modest people who were devoted to their children. Asked how the children were coping, another Israeli, Zvi Goren, whom the channel identified as a witness to the shootings, said, “They are crying.”