GAZA, Aug. 31 (Xinhua) -- Two days before Israel and the Palestinians launch their direct peace talks in Washington, the armed wing of the Islamic Hamas movement claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the shooting attack near Hebron in southern West Bank which killed four Israelis.
Hamas' armed wing Izeldein al-Qassam Brigades said in a text message sent to reporters that it claimed the full responsibility for the "heroic" armed attack carried out near Hebron.
The Israeli media had reported that four Israelis, including two women, one of them pregnant, were killed on Tuesday night when gunmen opened fire on their car at the entrance to the settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, in the West Bank.
"The armed operation near Hebron is a natural response to the crimes of the Israeli occupation and its settlers," said the statement of Hamas armed wing. "It is a reiteration that the armed Palestinian resistance is present despite the war to uproot it."
It is the first attack that the Hamas armed wing carried out in the West Bank for six years.
The attack was carried out just two days before a summit is held in Washington, sponsored by U.S. President Barack Obama to declare the launch of the direct peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians over permanent status issues.
The talks between the two sides had been frozen since December, 2008, following a series of Israeli large-scale military offensives on the Gaza Strip and the Israeli governments' decisions to expand settlement in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Eyewitnesses in Gaza said hundreds of Hamas supporters took to the streets to celebrate the attack carried out by Hamas. The demonstrators chanted slogans that praised the attack and slammed the Palestinian decision to go to the direct peace talks with Israel.
Earlier on Tuesday, Hamas movement called on the factions of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to withdraw from the organization in protest to the PLO executive committee's decision to accept the U.S. invitation to launch direct peace talks with Israel.
Hamas movement's spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Xinhua that the attack "is an evidence for the failure of the security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority to abortion the project of armed resistance against the Israeli occupation."
Meanwhile, the Bethlehem-based independent Ma'an News Agency quoted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas earlier on Tuesday as saying that the Jewish settlers are sitting on a land that is not theirs, and their presence on the Palestinian land "is illegal."
"This land is not yours and you know this very well. Settlement will disappear one day," Abbas told Ma'an reporter on the way to the United States.
"The Palestinian leadership is going to Washington because it is convinced and believes in peace and not because it has faced pressures," Abbas said.
Palestinian observers in Gaza said that they do not think that the attack in Hebron would undermine the U.S. initiative to bring both Israel and the Palestinians to resume their direct peace talks to reach a permanent peace agreement.