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Israeli children stabbed to death

A Palestinian infiltrated a Jewish West Bank settlement today and stabbed a family of five to death.

The family -- including an 11-year-old, a three-year-old and an infant -- were all stabbed in their sleep, according to a website.

The Israeli army says it is sweeping the area in search of the perpetrator and has set up checkpoints throughout the West Bank. It has instructed all residents to stay in their homes during the extensive sweeps.

The military blocked the entrance to the northern West Bank settlement of Itamar, as soldiers poured inside and a pair of ambulances departed.





Settlers

The overnight attack is the first attack against settlers in months and the first of its kind and scope in years. It marks a rare outburst of violence during a relatively calm period.

It also comes as Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts are at a standstill and seems likely to complicate efforts to restart them.

Itamar is home to some of the West Bank's most fervent settlers. The attack took place in the middle of the night against a religious community on the Jewish Sabbath.

The attack was reminiscent of a similar one against Itamar in June 2002, during the height of the violent Palestinian uprising, when a gunmen burst into the home of a family and opened fire.

The mother of the family and three of her children were murdered. Another two children were seriously injured and a local security official was shot to death as he tried to help.

hnews@herald.ie