Jewish settlers suspected of fire-bomb attack on Palestinians

JERUSALEM Thu Aug 16, 2012 4:59pm EDT

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A fire-bomb thrown at a Palestinian vehicle in the occupied West Bank on Thursday set the car on fire and wounded six people, in an attack a military source and Israeli media blamed on Jewish settlers.

"The main lead in the investigation suggests that Israeli civilians were responsible for the incident," said a military source who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Israeli media said that tracks were found leading from the site of the incident to a nearby settlement and that at least four of the passengers wounded were members of the same family, two of them children.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu denounced the attack.

"This is a grave incident. We will do all it takes to catch those responsible and bring them to justice," he said.

An Israeli police spokesman said forces were searching the area of the incident, near the Jewish settlement of Bat Ayin, for suspects involved in the attack. He said the injured were being treated in an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem.

Palestinians and Israeli human rights groups say that settlers are rarely prosecuted in cases of violence against Palestinians in the West Bank.

About 340,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank. The United Nations deems all Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be illegal. Israel, which cites biblical and historical links to the areas, disputes this.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem. Peace talks with Israel broke down in late 2010 in a dispute on settlements, which the Palestinians say deny them a contiguous, viable state.

(Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Myra MacDonald)