Gunmen killed an Israeli man in a shooting attack in the West Bank on Thursday as local attention was focused on Christmas celebrations in nearby Bethlehem.
A Palestinian group took responsibility for the killing.
The man, a resident of a Jewish settlement nearby, was in his 40s and was a father of seven, said Col. Avi Gil, the Israeli military commander in the area. Gil said the military had lifted restrictions on Palestinian movement in the area and that the perpetrators of the attack took advantage of that.
Shooting attacks were once commonplace on routes around the West Bank but have now become rare. Thursday's incident was one of only a handful to take place this year.
The Israeli military has kept many West Bank roads off-limits to Palestinian drivers in restrictions imposed after similar attacks against Israelis, but those restrictions have been gradually loosened and some checkpoints removed as violence in the West Bank has subsided.
A little-known Palestinian militant group identifying itself as a faction of President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement claimed responsibility for the attack in an e-mail sent to journalists.
The quiet in the West Bank in recent years has been due both to action by Israel's military against armed Palestinian groups and to the increasing control of security forces loyal to Abbas' Western-backed government.
The relative quiet allowed holiday celebrations to go ahead without incident Thursday in Bethlehem, where thousands of locals and visitors thronged the square outside Jesus' traditional birthplace.
Earlier in the day, about 200 Israeli teenagers soon to be drafted sent a letter to Israel's defense minister, saying they won't enforce any military orders to dismantle settlements in the West Bank because that violates Jewish law.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to slow construction in the West Bank has provoked anger in the largely religious settler community.
The teenagers, students at religious high schools, said their paramount loyalty is to Jewish religious law and not to that of the state. Several influential rabbis have urged religious soldiers to disobey any order to act against Jewish construction in the West Bank.
"The way the government is acting, the freeze in the West Bank, and the use of violence to implement it is very disrespectful toward the Bible," Hanani Lieberson, one of the teenagers who signed the letter, told Army Radio.
Although insubordination still is not a widespread phenomenon, it has the military worried. Eager to quash a potential rebellion, it has punished defiant soldiers, issued stern warnings to rabbis and expelled one seminary from a program that combines religious study and military service.
The Palestinians claim all of the West Bank as part of a future state, with east Jerusalem as their capital. While violence has largely subsided, there are still local protests mainly targeting Israel's West Bank security barrier.
On Thursday, South African Nobel peace laureate Desmond Tutu condemned Israel's arrest and indictment of one protest activist. The South African archbishop said the charges against Abdallah Abu Rahmeh were meant to "break the spirit" of Palestinians protesting the separation barrier.
Tutu's statement Thursday followed an indictment Wednesday against Abu Rahmeh, head of a persistent local protest movement in the village of Bilin.
Abu Rahmeh, who was arrested early this month, faces a serious charge of weapons possession, but court documents show he is suspected only of using Israeli bullets and gas and stun grenades in an exhibition about the military's tactics.
Further complicating Israeli-Palestinian relations in the last three years has been the fate of Sgt. Gilad Schalit, an Israeli soldier held in Gaza by Hamas militants. There have recently been signs that a deal to swap the soldier for 1,000 Palestinian prisoners could be close.
In Damascus, Syria, senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouk said the militant group is currently studying Israel's latest offer and will deliver its answer "next week at the latest."