Tel Aviv attack injures 8 people as Israel’s deadly raid on the West Bank continues

Eight people were injured by a Palestinian in a car ramming and stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, Israeli authorities said, raising fears of involuntary violence on the second day of the Israeli army’s large-scale incursion aimed at entrenching groups Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank city of Jenin.

The Palestinian death toll in the Jenin operation, the largest Israel has recorded in the area for many years, has risen to 12, according to Palestinian health officials. Four were under the age of 18, at least two of whom have been claimed by Palestinian militant groups as fighters. At least 120 people were injured, including 20 in serious condition, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The military operation in Jenin and the attack on Tel Aviv add to the sense of uncertainty and tension in the region, after the most right-wing government in Israeli history came to power six months ago. Coalition government leaders have vowed to expand Jewish settlements in the occupied territories and mount a tougher response to the violence, as the Palestinian Authority has increasingly lost control of militancy hotbeds in the occupied West Bank.

The sun rose on Tuesday over the deserted alleyways of Jenin refugee camp, a usually crowded neighborhood close to the West Bank city that is at the center of the military incursion. Military activities have prompted people to flee, with as many as 3,000 of the camp’s approximately 17,000 residents seeking refuge in schools and other public buildings, or with families elsewhere.

“We were huddled together in the middle of our house, terrified that a rocket might hit us at any minute,” said Omar Obeid, 60, a camp resident who fled the fighting with his children late Monday night .

A day after Israel launched the operation, which began with an infrequent use of airstrikes in the region, some 1,000 soldiers continued to search the camp on Tuesday after finding and confiscating caches of weapons, explosive devices and other military equipment, according to the Israeli army. ., who added that his forces had also destroyed explosives-making laboratories.

Although occasional gunfire and explosions could still be heard, the situation in the refugee camp was “calmer today than yesterday,” Jenin deputy governor Kamal Abu al-Rub said on Tuesday. Neither electricity nor running water was available in the camp due to the destruction caused by the operation, he added.

Mr. Netanyahu said late Tuesday afternoon during a visit to a military base near Jenin that the operation was in its final stages. “Right now we are completing the mission,” he said.

Jenin, long a militant stronghold, was at the center of rising tensions and violence in the year preceding the early Monday morning incursion, and as the army continued its operation there, Israeli authorities said a Palestinian of the West Bank had attacked Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv. A pregnant woman injured in the attack has lost her baby, Israeli television reported.

In security camera footage broadcast on Israeli television, a car can be seen crashing into a sidewalk in a residential area in the northern part of the city. The driver then gets out of the car and chases and stabs passers-by, brandishing a heavy object. He was then shot and killed by a civilian, Israeli security officials said. Three people are in serious condition, police said.

The Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic intelligence service, identified the attacker as Abd al-Wahab Khalaila, a 20-year-old Palestinian from Samua, a small town in the southern West Bank. Mr Khalaila had no security record, the agency said.

“We have assessed that due to our activity in Judea and Samaria, the motivation and potential for attacks would increase,” Israeli police chief Yaakov Shabtai told reporters, using the Biblical name for the West Bank. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised that the attack will not discourage Israel “in our fight against terrorism”.

Hamas, the militant Palestinian faction that controls Gaza, claimed Khalaila as a member and praised the attack as a response to the “Zionist occupation aggression in Jenin”. But Palestinian groups are known to claim membership or publicly honor all those killed by Israel, and Hamas has avoided taking direct responsibility for the assault.

Jenin is a bastion of Islamic Jihad and Hamas militant groups, as well as being home to new armed militias that have sprung up and do not respond to established organizations, and the area has been the source of dozens of shooting attacks against Israelis, according to Israeli military data.

Israeli officials said the latest military incursion was not intended to capture or hold territory in Jenin, adding it would continue for as long as needed to complete the mission.

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Admiral Daniel Hagari, said on Tuesday that 120 wanted men had been arrested and were being interrogated by the security services.

“There is no point in the field that we have not reached, including its core,” Admiral Hagari he wrote on Twitter Tuesday morning. He said each of the military units operating in the camp has been assigned a number of defined targets to search for throughout the day, adding, “If we run into friction with terrorists, we will fight them too.”

Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior Palestinian Authority official, called on the international community, including the United States, “to intervene immediately” to “stop Israeli aggression and force Israel to immediately withdraw from Jenin and its camp.” warning of the displacement of large numbers of residents.

The Palestinian Authority has announced the cessation of all contact with Israel over the Jenin raid.

The operation began shortly after 1 a.m. on Monday with drone airstrikes, a new tactic employed by Israel in the West Bank. The attacks were the most intense use of air power in the occupied territory in nearly two decades.

Israel said all those killed so far were combatants; militant groups claimed five as members. Palestinian authorities did not specify whether those who died were all combatants or included civilians.

Some Palestinian officials said Israel threatened and forced camp residents to evacuate their homes.

“Houses were demolished, broken into and people were forced to leave their homes,” Jenin Mayor Nidal Obeidi told Voice of Palestine radio station on Tuesday. According to scene news broadcast by the station, the sound of explosions and gunfire had been ringing in the camp since dawn.

Israeli officials denied carrying out forced evacuations, but confirmed that some residents had received text messages from Israeli numbers advising them to temporarily leave their homes. Admiral Hagari said Israeli forces allowed and even encouraged women and children to leave.

Analysts and former Israeli army generals said it would be in Israel’s best interest to conclude the operation as soon as possible to avoid escalation in Jenin and prevent any spillover of tensions in other areas, such as the Hamas-run territory of Gaza. which could lead to a wider conflict.

Gabby Sobelmann contributed reporting from Rehovot, Israel; Myra Novek from Jerusalem; AND Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City.