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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gunman Kills 5 Israelis on Kibbutz

KIBBUTZ METZER, Israel — A Palestinian gunman crawled under a security fence at a communal farm, burst into a home and shot dead a mother and her two sons, aged 4 and 5. The gunman then killed two more Israelis before vanishing in the dark.

Terrified residents at Kibbutz Metzer spent the night huddled in their homes, emerging only at daybreak Monday after security forces said the attacker had apparently fled to the West Bank, about a kilometer away.

The Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigade, a militant group loosely affiliated with Palestinian President Yasser Arafat's Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for the attack.

The attack raised tensions and expectations of Israeli retaliation in advance of a visit this week by U.S. envoy David Satterfield, who plans to discuss a U.S.-backed plan aimed at restarting Middle East peace negotiations.

Several hours after the kibbutz shooting, Israeli helicopters fired rockets into a large car repair shop in downtown Gaza City, witnesses said. The shop was empty at the time of the attack. There were no reports of casualties.

An army spokesman said one of two air force helicopters deployed in the attack fired four missiles at the shop, suspected of housing a weapons-making workshop.

Meanwhile, Israel and the Palestinians were preparing responses to a U.S.-backed peace initiative that calls for a provisional Palestinian state by 2003 and a permanent state in 2005.