Attack in Tel Aviv Wounds 8 as Israel’s Deadly Raid in West Bank Continues

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Eight people were wounded in a car-ramming and stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on Tuesday that the Israeli authorities said was terrorism, raising fears of tit-for-tat violence as Israel’s military carried out a second day of operations aimed at rooting out Palestinian armed groups in the West Bank city of Jenin.

The Palestinian death toll in the Jenin operation, the largest that Israel has mounted in the area in many years, rose to 10, according to Palestinian health officials. Four were under 18 years old, at least two of whom were 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 in Tel Aviv add to the sense of uncertainty and tension in the region, after the most right-wing government in Israeli history took power six months ago promising both expanded Jewish settlements in occupied territory and a tougher response to violence, while the Palestinian Authority has increasingly lost control of hotbeds of militancy in the occupied West Bank.

The sun rose on Tuesday on deserted alleyways in Jenin’s refugee camp, a usually crowded quarter abutting the city that is the focus of the military incursion. Up to 3,000 of the camp’s roughly 17,000 residents have sought shelter in schools and other public buildings, or with families elsewhere, while others have holed up in their homes.

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

About 1,000 troops continued searching the camp on Tuesday after having earlier found and confiscated caches of weapons, explosive devices and other military equipment, according to the Israeli military, which added that its forces had also destroyed laboratories for manufacturing explosives.

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

Jenin, long a militant stronghold, has been at the center of escalating tensions and violence in the year leading up to the incursion early on Monday morning, and, as the military continued its operation there, the Israeli authorities said that a West Bank Palestinian had tried to attack Israeli civilians in Tel Aviv.

In security camera footage broadcast on Israeli television, a car can be seen slamming into the curb in a residential area in the northern part of the city. The driver then left his car and chased 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, the 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 prior security record, the agency said.

“We’ve assessed that because of our activity in Judea and Samaria, the motivation and potential for attacks would rise,” the Israeli police chief, Yaakov Shabtai, told reporters, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

No Palestinian faction immediately took responsibility for the attack, though it was quickly praised by Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza. A spokesman for Hamas, Abdel Latif al-Qanou, said on Twitter that the attack was “the beginning of the response to the Zionist occupation’s aggression against Jenin.”

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

Israeli officials said that the latest military incursion was not intended to conquer or hold territory in Jenin, adding that it would continue for as long as it took for the mission to be completed. Analysts said that probably meant hours or a few days at most.

Israel’s chief military spokesman, Rear Adm. 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 camp that we have not reached, including its core,” Admiral Hagari wrote on Twitter on Tuesday morning. He said that each of the military units operating in the camp had been given a number of defined targets to search during the day, adding, “If we encounter friction with terrorists — we will fight them as well.”

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

The Palestinian Authority announced that it was ceasing all contact with Israel over the Jenin raid.

The operation opened shortly after 1 a.m. on Monday with airstrikes from drones, a new tactic being employed by Israel in the West Bank. The strikes were the most intense use of air power in the occupied territory in about two decades.

Israel said that all those who had been killed so far were combatants; militant groups have so far claimed five of them as members. The Palestinian authorities have not specified whether those who died were all combatants or included civilians.

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

“Houses have been demolished, broken into, and the people were forced out of their own homes,” the mayor of Jenin, Nidal Obeidi, told the radio station Voice of Palestine on Tuesday. According to reports from the scene aired on the station, the sound of explosions and exchanges of fire had rung around the camp since dawn.

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

Analysts and former generals with the Israeli military said that it would be in Israel’s interest to wrap up the operation as soon as possible to avoid mistakes and to prevent any spillover of tensions into other areas, such as the Hamas-run territory of Gaza, which could result in a broader conflict.

Gabby Sobelman contributed reporting from Rehovot, Israel; Myra Noveck from Jerusalem; and Iyad Abuheweila from Gaza City.


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