Jenin (Palestinian Territories) (AFP), April 12 – Fresh clashes between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian militants rocked the West Bank city of Jenin on Tuesday as a Palestinian man stabbed a policeman in Israel before being shot dead.
Israeli troops have launched a fourth day of operations around Jenin after an assailant from the burning neighborhood shot and killed three people at a Tel Aviv bar last week in the latest in a series of attacks that have stunned the Jewish state.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett – who warned in response that there would be “no limits to this war” – traveled overnight to the scene of the Tel Aviv shooting and swore: “ 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, in their bases, at their source – and, please God, we will overcome.”
The official Palestinian Wafa news agency said “clashes broke out” for a fourth day between young Palestinian men and Israeli soldiers “who fired live ammunition, stun grenades and tear gas at them”.
The IDF said its “soldiers responded with live ammunition against suspects who threw explosive devices at them, as well as armed suspects in the area.”
“Soldiers and other security forces apprehended 20 wanted terrorist suspects overnight and early in the morning.”
In Zeita, near the border with Israel, commandos found “weapons and arrested wanted persons suspected of having assisted in terrorist activities”, the army said.
The latest violence to rock Israel occurred in the Mediterranean port city of Ashkelon, where police said an officer was checking a 40-year-old Palestinian man who then “draw a knife and attacked the ‘officer”.
The officer “shot and incapacitated the suspect, who was pronounced dead at the scene,” police said, adding that the officer was hospitalized with minor injuries from the kitchen knife attack.
Police said the man was from Hebron – a powder keg where around 1,000 Jewish settlers live under heavy military protection among 200,000 Palestinians.
Ashkelon said it has deployed additional police on motorcycles to patrol schools and commercial areas.
– ‘Escalation of violence’ –
Young Palestinians also clashed with Israeli security forces elsewhere, including in Ramallah where they threw stones and were targeted with tear gas on Monday.
The spike in violence comes during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and days before the Jewish holiday of Passover and Christian Easter.
Last year during Ramadan, tensions in Jerusalem erupted into an 11-day war between Israel and the ruling Hamas militant group in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli troops and police have stepped up operations over the past three weeks in which four stabbing, stabbing and car-ramming attacks have killed 14 people.
During the same period, Israeli forces killed 15 Palestinians, including assailants, according to an AFP tally.
Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh blamed Israeli actions for fueling the escalation and accused Israel of a “shoot to kill policy”, speaking at a government meeting on Monday.
He argued that the lack of political horizon and the double standards of the international community were “a serious warning that the situation is getting worse”, according to Wafa.
The Islamic Jihad militant group hailed the response to Israel’s military incursions into Jenin and other cities.
“We salute our people who stand as an inflexible barricade against the terrorism of the Zionist enemy and who thwart their plans to carry out the assault on the camp and the city of Jenin and all the cities of the West Bank.”
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has followed “with deep concern the escalation of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory and in Israel”, said his spokesman Stéphane Dujarric.
“He is appalled by the growing number of victims, including women and children,” Dujarric added.