New clashes rock West Bank as Palestinian attacker killed in Israel

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Fresh clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian gunmen rocked the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday as a Palestinian was killed after stabbing an Israeli police officer, raising the death toll.

Israeli forces launched a fourth day of military operations around Jenin after an attacker from the restive area last week shot and killed three people in a Tel Aviv bar, in the latest in a series of attacks that stunned the Jewish state.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – who warned in response that “there will be no limits to this war” – vowed during his visit to the Tel Aviv shooting site: “We will not let our enemy stop our lives.

“We will fight wherever they are, at their bases, at their source – and to please God, we will win.”

The official Palestinian news agency, Wafa, said that Israeli soldiers “fired live bullets, sound bombs and tear gas” in Tuesday’s battles that continued for the fourth day.

The Israeli army said that its soldiers “fired live ammunition at suspects who threw explosive devices at them and armed suspects in the area,” and arrested 20 Palestinians.

A makeshift tire barricade blocked the road to Jenin refugee camp, where a poster on the wall paid tribute to Tel Aviv shooter, Raad Hazem, 28, who was killed after an intense all-night chase last Friday.

Ramadan Tensions

“Here the (armed Palestinian) factions unite against the common enemy,” said Ismail, a young worker from Jenin camp, describing the Tel Aviv attack as “heroic.”

“What happened in Tel Aviv means a lot to the camp. The more operations Israel launches here, the more resistance it will face,” he told AFP.

The latest violence to rock Israel took place in the Mediterranean city of Ashkelon, where police said an officer was examining a Palestinian man in his forties who then “taken out a knife and attacked the officer”.

The policeman “shot and neutralized the suspect who was pronounced dead at the scene,” police said, adding that the officer was taken to hospital with minor injuries from a kitchen knife.

The police said that the man is from Hebron – a powder keg in which about a thousand Jewish settlers live under heavy military protection among 200,000 Palestinians.

In other places, Palestinian youths also clashed with Israeli security forces, including Ramallah, where they threw stones and faced tear gas.

The surge in violence comes during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and days before the Jewish Passover and Christian Passover.

Last year during Ramadan, tensions in Jerusalem escalated into 11 days of war between Israel and the armed Hamas movement that rules the Gaza Strip.

cycle of violence

The Israeli forces and police intensified their operations over the past three weeks, as four shooting, stabbing and ramming attacks killed 14 people.

In the same period, Israeli forces killed 15 Palestinians, including assailants, according to an AFP tally.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz visited the area on Tuesday where the barrier, which runs roughly along the West Bank border, is due to be extended by 40 kilometers (25 miles) in the coming months under a plan approved on Sunday.

Israel began building the controversial wall, which is more than 500 kilometers long, part wall and part fence, 20 years ago after a series of deadly Palestinian attacks.

The army said that in the wake of recent attacks in Israel, it would reinforce the barrier with additional forces.

The Palestinians say the construction of the wall has seized nearly 10 percent of the West Bank, and the International Court of Justice has ruled it illegal.

Meanwhile, Islamic Jihad praised the Palestinian response to the Israeli military incursions into Jenin and other cities.

“We salute our people who stand as an inexhaustible barrier to the terrorism of the Zionist enemy,” the statement said.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had followed “with deep concern the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.”

“He is disturbed by the increasingly high number of victims, including women and children,” Dujarric added.

Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh said that Israel’s actions “will lead to a dangerous and uncontrollable escalation” and will lead to a new “cycle of violence”.

(AFP)

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