Israeli officials said a Palestinian gunman opened fire on a crowded street in central Tel Aviv late Thursday, wounding and shooting three people dead. The shooting came hours after three Palestinian militants were killed in an Israeli army attack in the occupied West Bank.
The incidents were the latest violence in a year-long wave of Israeli-Palestinian fighting that shows no sign of slowing.
Tel Aviv’s shooting took place on Dizengoff Street, a popular thoroughfare filled with shops and restaurants. The city was filled with people on Thursday night, the start of the Israeli weekend, and anti-government protests were taking place.
The Mada rescue service said one of the wounded was in serious condition, while another medical service, Zaka, said the shooter was killed.
A picture on social media showed what is believed to be the attacker standing in the middle of the road and brandishing a pistol. Dozens of police and rescue workers rushed to the scene, which was immediately cordoned off.
Earlier on Thursday, three Palestinian militants were killed in a shootout with Israeli soldiers in the northern West Bank.
Israeli security forces said they raided the village of Jaba to arrest suspects wanted for attacks on Israeli soldiers in the area. Police said the suspects opened fire on Israeli soldiers, who retaliated and killed three men, all affiliated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group.
The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the men as 26-year-old Sufyan Fakhoury, 25-year-old Nayef Malaisha and 22-year-old Ahmed Fashafsha and said they were shot by Israeli shelling during the military operation. Officials said a fourth person was hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the head.
Israeli police released a photo of assault rifles, pistols, ammunition and explosive devices they said soldiers seized in Jabba, south of the flashpoint city of Jenin. The army said gunmen shot down an Israeli drone during the clashes.
The Jabba militant group, a new militia of disillusioned young Palestinians who have taken up guns against the Israeli occupation, said members opened fire and threw explosive devices at Israeli forces from a palanquin – now located in the city centre, smashed and is covered in blood. Residents said Israeli soldiers killed members of the group who had recently been imprisoned by Israel in a recent shooting attack on a nearby checkpoint.
This year has been marked by escalating unrest in the West Bank, as Israeli arrests spiral into protracted firefights with armed Palestinians.
On a visit to Israel, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin told reporters on Thursday that he discussed concerns over the escalation of violence in the occupied West Bank with his Israeli counterpart, Defense Minister Yoav Galant.
The United States was “urging everyone to de-escalate,” the defense secretary said, especially for the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which this year coincides with the Jewish holiday of Passover.
“The United States strongly opposes acts that could trigger further destabilization, including settlement expansion and inflammatory rhetoric,” Austin said, adding that he was “particularly troubled” by the violence against Palestinians. . “We will continue to oppose actions that are out of reach of a two-state solution.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right government, which took office late last year, has already approved thousands of new homes, legalized unauthorized outposts partially built on private Palestinian land and occupied Pledged to advance Israeli rule over the territory. Last month, in response to a Palestinian attack that left two Israelis dead, a mob of settlers ransacked the Palestinian town of Hawara and torched dozens of homes and businesses, killing one person.
The Israeli army released a report on the violence on Thursday, identifying a series of failings, including insufficient numbers of troops in the area and the need to rapidly send reinforcements. It said that “lessons were drawn” about coordination between the army, police and internal security agents.
“This is a serious incident that happened under our responsibility and should not have happened,” said Israel’s military chief of staff, Lt. Col. Herzi Halevi. “We will study and take necessary lessons to prevent such incidents from happening again in the future.”
Austin urged calm, even though Gaza-based Islamic Jihad issued a veiled threat saying its fighters would respond to the morning raid “to intimidate the enemy and avenge the blood of the martyrs”. Violence broke out in the West Bank before rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip.
The Jaba armed group includes gunmen from various factions, including Islamic Jihad and the armed crime of the nationalist Fatah party. Militants in the village say Islamic Jihad supports the group and provides weapons to its members.
The group is part of a larger trend of armed groups emerging in the West Bank that have been mounting shooting attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians in defiance of the increasingly unpopular Palestinian Authority and opening fire during Israeli raids on their cities . In the areas of the northern West Bank where much of the fighting has been concentrated, the PA’s control is eroding as young Palestinians lose hope for statehood.
Young Palestinians on the cobbled streets of Jabba chanted black slogans against the Israeli occupation and fired into the air as they carried bodies of militants aloft.
Yousef Hammor, 28, who was part of the funeral procession, said Palestinian anger in Israel was growing with the rise in arrest raids.
Hummer said, “Everyone is in shock, everyone is angry.” “Every single day they’re killing us more and more. If they attack us, we’ll attack them.”
Earlier in the week, an Israeli attack on the Jenin refugee camp killed at least six Palestinians. The Palestinian health ministry said 14-year-old Walid Nasser died on Thursday from wounds sustained in Tuesday’s raid.
At least 74 Palestinians, nearly half of whom were affiliated with militant groups, have been killed in Israel’s raids in the West Bank since the beginning of the year. During the same time period 14 people, all except one civilian, were killed in Palestinian attacks against Israelis.
After Israel captured the West Bank along with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in the 1967 Middle East War, the Palestinians sought their own future state. In the decades since, more than 700,000 Jewish settlers have moved into dozens of settlements in the West Bank and Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, which the international community considers illegal and an obstacle to peace.
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