An Israeli army veteran was charged Monday with murdering three Palestinian civilians in the West Bank, including a mother and her daughter, as they walked along the Israeli-annexed Palestinian city of Hebron.
Yishai Alon said he killed the three women, aged 18, 18 and 24, on Sunday, in the northern West Bank village of Salfit, after he attacked the women with a knife, the military said.
He was charged with attempted murder and is scheduled to appear in a military court in Ramallah on Tuesday.
The incident occurred a day after a Palestinian teen, Mohammed Abu Khdeir, was stabbed and killed in Hebron by a man who claimed he was acting on behalf of the terror group.
Heikh Khalid Abu Al-Muthanna, 20, was arrested on suspicion of murder in Hebror, the West of Hebrol, and was also suspected of attacking a car in the nearby town of Safed, the IDF said.
The Israeli military has accused Hamas of carrying out the killings.
The killings sparked outrage across the Middle East, with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas calling for “urgent” action against the terror organization.
Alon, who is a member of the Druze sect, told the Israeli military he was “a young soldier with the same blood as my father,” said his family, who identified him only by his first name, Shai, in an interview with the army’s army radio.
“He has lost his life for the sake of the state and for the future of the people,” he said.
Al-Muhanna had been serving as a member in the IDF since 2011, and has been promoted to brigadier general, the highest rank in the army.
He was also head of the Israel Defense Forces’ elite commandos unit, the Shin Bet.
Al on Monday accused the Palestinian Authority of inciting the attack, saying Hamas was behind it.
“Hamas is behind it because they want to provoke the world,” he told the military radio.
“It is our duty to do everything possible to prevent this incident from happening again.”
Israel says it is investigating the incident, but Palestinian officials said the three killed were innocent.
Al’s father, Shael Alon, told Al Jazeera the family does not want to blame Hamas for the killings, saying his son was a “hero”.
“We know it is an act of terrorism, but what we are worried about is the consequences of it,” he added.
Hamas said the charges against its leader, Khaled Meshaal, were politically motivated and that Alon was not the real perpetrator.
“This is an attempt by the Zionist regime to derail the movement of the Palestinian people and the cause of their liberation,” the group said in a statement on its website.
The violence, which began in the late 1990s, has killed more than 1,100 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and wounded hundreds more.
The Palestinian Authority says it does not recognise Hamas and has not accepted the authority of Hamas in Gaza, which the PA has controlled since 2007.