Seven wounded in shooting on Israeli bus in West Bank

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Palestinian and Arab-Israeli gunmen wounded six Israeli soldiers and a civilian on Sunday when they sprayed bullets at a bus in the occupied West Bank, the army said.

The attack in the Jordan Valley, near the city of Tubas, extends a recent spate of violence in the West Bank and follows a shooting spree last month targeting an Israeli bus in annexed east Jerusalem.

It also follows months of often deadly Israeli army raids in the West Bank, many targeting Palestinian militants in the Nablus and Jenin areas -- both near Tubas.

An Israeli military spokesman said that the attack was carried out by three men -- two from Jenin in the occupied West Bank, and one Arab Israeli.

Two of the suspects were arrested soon after Sunday's attack near the burnt-out remains of the vehicle they were thought to have used, and guns were found lying on the dirt road nearby. The bus's windscreen was peppered with dozens of bullet holes and a side window was smashed.

The Israeli military said one soldier was seriously wounded and five others and a civilian suffered lighter wounds.

The seriously wounded soldier had stabilised, and he was now in a moderate condition, the army spokesman later said, adding that the bus was a civilian vehicle being used to transfer new recruits.

Medics said two gunshot victims were airlifted to hospital in the Israeli coastal city of Haifa.

Three others wounded by flying glass were taken to another hospital in northern Israel, according to the Magen David Adom emergency medical services.

Defence Minister Benny Gantz said security forces "immediately went in pursuit and got their hands on suspects in the attack".

The army said security forces were "continuing the searches" after the detention of two armed suspects.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid praised rescue and security forces "who acted swiftly and with determination" to treat casualties and apprehended the suspects, he said on Twitter.

Palestinian Islamist group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, praised the shooting as a "heroic" operation.

- Week of violence -

On a dirt road near the bus, Israeli security forces surrounded a torched pickup truck reportedly belonging to the attackers.

The army spokesperson said the truck "caught fire, probably from a Molotov cocktail that was on the vehicle," noting the two arrested suspects were being treated for burns.

The attack follows a shooting spree last month targeting an Israeli bus in annexed east Jerusalem. Eight people, including several US citizens, were wounded in the pre-dawn attack near the Old City of Jerusalem.

It also follows a spate of violent incidents in recent days in the West Bank.

On Friday, a Palestinian was shot dead after stabbing and wounding an Israeli soldier at an army post near the flashpoint city of Hebron.

On Tuesday, four Palestinians and two Israelis were wounded in separate incidents near Nablus, the largest city in the northern West Bank.

The situation in the West Bank was "right now very volatile," the Israeli military spokesman said.

Israel has controlled east Jerusalem and the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War when it seized the territories from Jordan.

Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians have been frozen for years.

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