JERUSALEM, Israel - Hamas claimed responsibility for a second drive-by shooting at an Israeli couple Wednesday night near the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Ramallah, Army Radio reported.
The attack took place on Highway 60 between the Rimonim Junction and the Jewish community of Kochav HaShachar in the Binyamin Region of Samaria, about a 15-minute drive north of Jerusalem.
Hamas has made a strategic decision to begin a new wave of terrorism aimed at Israeli settlers, according to Jonathan Fighel, senior researcher with the Institute for Counter-Terrorism at the Herzliya Interdisciplinary Center.
"It's a strategic, political decision from the Hamas leadership in Damascus to express their dismay and rejection of the peace talks taking place in Washington," Fighel told CBN News.
"They are showing they have operational capabilities and a willingness to act in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]," Fighel said.
Police reporting from the scene of last night's shooting said the vehicle veered off the road and plunged down an embankment.
Magen David Adom paramedics treated Rabbi Moshe and Shira Morano, residents of Ma'ale Efraim in the Jordan Rift Valley, at the scene before evacuating them to Hadassah Hospital in Ein Kerem.
Tailgated for Five Minutes
The rabbi said a car tailgated them for about five minutes, blinding them with its headlights.
"I signaled to the driver that he was bothering me and that he should pass me, but he took a long time to respond," Morano told Army Radio.
"Then, as we came around a bend, he came past me and the shooting started," he said.
Suddenly one of the automatic rifles jammed.
"One of the guns seemed to jam and that gave us the chance to roll away and take cover," the rabbi said, who sustained shrapnel wounds to his legs and a bullet in the shoulder. "I knew if they reached us, they would spray us with bullets at point blank range," he said.
"I unlocked the door and pulled my wife out, and we rolled into the ditch," he said, where he was able to use his cell phone to call for help.
On Thursday morning, a spokesman for the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the "military wing" of Hamas, which had claimed responsibility for killing four Israelis in a drive-by shooting on Tuesday night, said they were responsible.
"The attack was a message to those who pledged to the Zionist enemy there would be no more attacks," Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida said.
Following Wednesday night's attack, Abbas issued a statement from Washington.
"We are not interested in spilling Israeli blood," Abbas told reporters. "We want the two peoples to live regular lives in real peace," he said.
Fighel said Hamas achieved another one of its goals.
"Vis-à-vis these shooting attacks, Hamas brought itself to the podium in Washington. It made prime time TV with these shootings," he said.
Meanwhile, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar told faction members on Wednesday night that Abbas "has no right to represent the Palestinian people."
"Today marks the start of direct negotiations between someone who has no right to represent the Palestinian people and the brutal occupier, to provide a cover for Judaizing [sic] Jerusalem and stealing the land," he said.
Al-Zahar said liberating all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River is both a moral and religious duty for Muslims and armed resistance (a euphemism for terror attacks) is the way to defeat the occupiers.