Israeli couple shot dead by Palestinian gunmen leaving four orphaned children

An Israeli couple have been shot by gunmen while travelling in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

Eiran and Naama Henkin were driving between the Jewish settlements of Itamar and Elon Moreh with their four children last night when they were shot by Palestinian gunmen.

Tensions in occupied West Bank have escalated in recent days after Palestinian men under 50 were denied access to Temple Mount which contains al-Aqsa mosque, one of Islam's holiest sitesReuters

"Palestinian terrorists opened fire on an Israeli family car, killing both parents," said Ofir Gendelman, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Luckily, their four kids, now orphans, were unharmed."

British Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis condemned the attack.

"With a deep sense of shock and great pain, we mourn the senseless and brutal murder of Rabbi Eitam and Naama Henkin in the presence of their four young children," he said.

"We grieve alongside Rabbi Yehuda and Rabbanit Chana Henkin and all of their family. At this time of immense tragedy, we redouble our prayers for peace and security in the region."

However Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group who control the Gaza strip, praised the attack as a "heroic operation carried out by resistance fighters in the West Bank".

"We bless the killing of settlers in the West Bank," Husam Badram, a spokesman for Hamas said.

"We call on our people in the West Bank to carry out more quality operations like the [one] today.

"This is the only solution which is supported by the masses of our people everywhere."

The shooting came only hours after Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly in New York he was ready to re-start peace negotiations "immediately" but that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not interested.

However Abbas had previously told the UN the Palestinian Authority no longer felt bound by agreements with Israel because they were "continually violated" by Israel's refusal to stop settlement activities or release Palestinian prisoners as agreed.

Tensions in the West Bank have been particularly high recently over access to Temple Mount which lies in occupied Palestinian territory and is sacred to both Jews and Muslims.