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Seven hurt in Tel Aviv attack on day two of Israel's West Bank raid

100 people are in custody, thousands have been displaced from their homes

By AFP - Jul 05,2023 - Last updated at Jul 05,2023

People flee the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank during an ongoing Israeli military operation on Tuesday (AFP photo)

JENIN/TEL AVIV — A car ramming and stabbing attack in Tel Aviv wounded seven people on Tuesday before the suspect was shot dead, on the second day of Israel's biggest military operation in years in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian group Hamas praised the "heroic" attack as "an initial response to crimes against our people in the Jenin camp" where Israeli forces had killed 11 people in a "counterterrorism" operation launched in the early hours of Monday.

The driver in Tel Aviv was thought to have intentionally hit several pedestrians on a shopping street before getting out of the vehicle to "stab civilians with a sharp object", police said.

A West Bank resident, was shot dead by an armed civilian passerby, said police chief Yaakov Shabtai.

The attack came as the army pushed on with its operation in Jenin in the northern West Bank.

A Palestinian died Tuesday after being shot by Israeli forces in Jenin, the Palestinian health ministry said, taking the death toll to 11 since the start of the raid.

More than 100 people are in custody, and thousands have been displaced from their homes.

Explosions were heard from the camp and a drone hovered overhead, an AFP correspondent reported.

Medical charity Doctors Without Borders condemned Israeli forces for firing tear gas inside Khalil Suleiman hospital in Jenin, calling it "unacceptable".

The Jenin raid, launched early Monday under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government, employed hundreds of troops as well as drone strikes and army bulldozers that ripped up streets.

“In the last five years, this is the worst raid,” said Qasem Benighader, a nurse at a hospital morgue.

During a visit to an army base near Jenin, Netanyahu vowed to “uproot terrorism”.

“We will not allow Jenin to go back to being a city of refuge for terrorism.”

The army said its forces had “neutralised” four explosives manufacturing facilities in Jenin and dismantled two operational situation rooms.

The Palestinian foreign ministry labelled the escalation “open war against the people of Jenin”.

 

‘Cut off from world’ 

 

Jenin’s shops were shuttered amid a general strike and the near-empty streets littered with debris and burned roadblocks.

The army said it had uncovered militant hideouts, arms depots and an underground shaft used to store explosives.

Israeli forces had detained “120 Palestinian suspects”, the army said, adding around “300 armed terrorists were still in Jenin, mostly in hiding”.

The army said it does not intend to stay in the camp housing about 18,000 people but was ready for prolonged fighting.

“The most dangerous is what happened inside the camp, where there is no electricity, no water, and no roads for those who need to go to hospital,” Jenin Mayor Nidal Abu Saleh told AFP.

The northern West Bank has seen a recent spate of attacks on Israelis as well as Zionist settler violence targeting Palestinians.

The Israel-Palestinian conflict has worsened since early last year, and escalated further under the Netanyahu government that includes extreme-right allies.

Around 3,000 people had fled their homes in the refugee camp, said deputy governor of Jenin, Kamal Abu Al Roub.

Imad Jabarin, one of those leaving in the rubbles-strewn camp, said “all aspects of life have been destroyed, there is no electricity and no communications... we are cut off from the world to some extent”.

 

‘Strengthen settlements’ 

 

The United Nations decried the violence in Tel Aviv and Jenin.

“The killing, maiming and the destruction of property must stop,” UN rights chief Volker Turk said.

The United States said its ally Israel had a right to “defend its people against... terrorist groups” but called for protection of civilians.

In the Israeli-blockaded Gaza Strip, protesters burned tyres near the border fence with Israel.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the June War of 1967.

Excluding annexed east Jerusalem, the territory is now home to around 490,000 Israelis in settlements considered illegal under international law.

The Palestinians, who seek their own independent state, want Israel to withdraw from all land it seized in 1967 and to dismantle all Zionist settlements.

Netanyahu, however, has pledged to “strengthen settlements” and expressed no interest in reviving peace talks, which have been moribund since 2014.

At least 189 Palestinians, 25 Israelis, one Ukrainian and one Italian have been killed this year, according to an AFP tally compiled from official sources from both sides.

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