JENIN: Fresh clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants rocked the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday as a Palestinian stabbed a police officer in Israel before being shot dead.
Israeli troops launched a fourth day of operations around Jenin after an assailant from the flashpoint district shot and killed three people in a Tel Aviv bar last week in the latest of a spate of attacks that have stunned the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett — who warned in response that there would “not be limits for this war” — overnight visited the Tel Aviv shooting scene and vowed: “We will not let our enemy stop our lives.
“We will continue to live our lives and at the same time we will fight where they are located, in their bases, at their source — and, please God, we will win.” The Palestinian official news agency Wafa said clashes erupted for the fourth day between young Palestinian men and Israeli soldiers who fired live bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas at them.
Islamic Jihad hails Palestinian response to Israel’s military incursions in Jenin, other cities
The Israeli army said its soldiers responded with live ammunition toward suspects who hurled explosive devices at them, as well as toward armed suspects in the area.
“Soldiers and other security forces apprehended 20 wanted terror suspects during the night and early morning.”
In Zeita, near the border with Israel, commandos found “weapons and arrested wanted persons suspected of aiding terrorist activities,” the army said. The latest violence to rock Israel came in the Mediterranean port city of Ashkelon, where police said an officer was checking a Palestinian man in his 40s who then “pulled out a knife and attacked the officer”.
The policeman “fired and neutralized the suspect, whose death was declared on-site,” police said, adding that the officer was hospitalized with light wounds from the attack using a kitchen knife.
Police said the man hailed from Hebron — a powder keg where around 1,000 Jewish settlers live under heavy military protection among 200,000 Palestinians. Ashkelon said it deployed extra police on motorcycles to patrol schools and commercial areas.
Palestinian youth have also clashed elsewhere with Israeli security forces, including in Ramallah where they threw rocks and were targeted with tear gas on Monday.
The rise in violence comes during the Muslim fasting month of Ramazan and days before the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian Easter.
Last year during Ramazan, tensions in Jerusalem flared into 11 days of war between Israel and the Hamas militant group ruling the Gaza Strip.
Israeli troops and police have stepped up operations over the past three weeks in which four shooting, stabbing, and car-ramming attacks have left 14 people dead.
Over the same period, Israeli forces have killed 15 Palestinians, including assailants, according to an AFP tally.
The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, charged that Israeli actions were fuelling the escalation and accused Israel of a “shoot-to-kill policy”, speaking at a government meeting on Monday.
He argued that the lack of a political horizon and double standards from the international community was “a serious warning that the situation is getting worse,” according to Wafa.
Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad hailed the response to Israel’s military incursions in Jenin and other cities.
“We salute our people who stand like an unyielding barricade in the face of the Zionist enemy’s terrorism, and who frustrate its plans to carry out the assault on the camp and city of Jenin and all the cities of the West Bank.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres followed “with deep concern the escalating violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel”, said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
“He is appalled by the increasingly high number of casualties, including women and children,” Dujarric added.