Hamas and Islamic Jihad claim the ramming-stabbing attack is a response to the deaths of 13 Palestinians in raids on Jenin; UN accuses Israel of ‘wilful killing’.
Eight people were wounded, three seriously, in a car ramming and stabbing attack in northern Tel Aviv on Tuesday afternoon.
The assailant, a 20-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank who entered Israel without a permit, was shot dead by civilian Kobi Yekutiel, who told police, “The terrorist chased me. I shot him and he fell. My legs were shaking. I was praying that the bullet would fire, because if it didn’t, I was dead.”
Other suspects have been arrested for involvement.
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad praised the attack as a response to Israel’s raids on the Jenin refugee camp earlier this week.
“The heroic action in Tel Aviv is the first response to Israel’s crimes against our people in the Jenin refugee camp. As the [Palestinian] resistance has already put it – Israel will pay the price for its crimes,” Hamas spokesperson Hazem Kassem said in response to the attack.
This week’s Jenin raid, which was aimed at a terror command centre in the camp, was the biggest Israeli military operation in the area for years. It resulted in the deaths of at least 13 Palestinians, more than 100 wounded and thousands of homes destroyed or damaged. One Israeli soldier was killed in the fighting.
The IDF claimed the slain Palestinians were involved in the fighting, but there were some noncombatants among the wounded.
But the Jenin operation, “raises a host of serious issues with respect to international human rights norms and standards,” according to UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk.
The scale of the Jenin operation, “including the use of repeated airstrikes, along with the destruction of property, raises a host of serious issues with respect to international human rights norms and standards, including protecting and respecting the right to life,” Volker stated.
Those human rights “standards do not change simply because the goal of the operation is stated as “counterterrorism,” he explained.
The 22-member Arab League issued a statement calling the Israeli actions in Jenin “tantamount to a war crime,” and added that its actions “undermine the endeavours and attempts devoted to reviving peace.”
The United States, meanwhile, said that while it supports Israel’s right to defend itself, it urged Jerusalem to take all possible precautions to prevent the loss of civilian lives.
The northern West Bank, and especially the city of Jenin and its environs, has long been considered by the IDF as a hotbed of terrorism, highlighted by a string of attacks in early 2022, many of which were carried out by residents of the area.
According to the IDF, since last year, some 50 shooting attacks were carried out by residents of the area, and 19 wanted Palestinians escaped to Jenin to seek refuge from Israeli forces.
Defence Minister Yoav Gallant said on Wednesday that the two-day Israeli operation in the Jenin refugee camp had “fully achieved” its goals, though it was “not the final word as far as we’re concerned.”
In a briefing to reporters, Gallant said that the military was restoring its freedom to operate in the northern West Bank city with smaller forces and ending Jenin’s status as a sanctuary for gunmen. “It may take another round or two, but the situation today is not the one we faced at the start of the week,” he said.
“We brought down the terror factory that was built in Jenin. These were many dozens of sites that hosted bomb workshops, labs, weapons caches as well as security means guarding the entrances to the camp,” he said.
There was also action on the Gaza border, where five rockets were launched overnight on Wednesday from the Gaza Strip towards Israel in the wake of the operation in Jenin, all intercepted by the Iron Dome.
In response, Israel targeted what it said was an underground Hamas manufacturing facility for weapons, and another for rockets.
Seven injured in ramming-stabbing attack in Tel Aviv (Times of Israel)
UN Rights Chief: IDF airstrike on Jenin may be ‘wilful killing’ (Jerusalem Post)
The Jenin operation, “raises a host of serious issues with respect to international human rights norms and standards,” UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Turk said.
Gallant: Goals of Jenin op fully achieved, most gunmen fled or hid among civilians (Times of Israel)
Defence Minister says military is restoring its freedom to operate in the city and ending its status as a sanctuary for gunmen, though “it may take another round or two”.
Five Rockets launched towards Israel from Gaza, causing minor damage to Sderot homes (Haaretz)
Israel responded to the rockets with an air strike on Hamas munitions production facilities, “significantly impeding Hamas’s efforts to intensify the conflict,” as operation in Jenin comes to an end.
Israel regains leeway in Jenin, but the macabre dance will persist (Amos Harel, Haaretz)
Israel may have bought itself a temporary respite from West Bank terror, but military operations will not achieve long-term quiet. Without a scintilla of a diplomatic horizon for the Palestinians, the violence will continue.
Israelis will go back to normal, but Jenin operation fosters another generation of hopeless Palestinians (Jack Khoury, Haaretz)
Israel may succeed in bringing about a sort of limited calm in the West Bank, but the images from Jenin will be more fertile ground to raise another generation that sees no future.
Netanyahu’s attack on Jenin shows weakness. The Palestinians are weak too – and therein lies the danger (Simon Tisdall, Guardian)
It is too early to know if a third intifada will follow this or a wider, more far-reaching conflict. But the signs are not good.
Can Israel’s operation in Jenin restore IDF deterrence in West Bank? (Ben Caspit, Al Monitor)
Israel’s security system knows that even a large military operation cannot completely erase militant activity from the West Bank city of Jenin, but it does hope to shift the balance of power in its favour.
Israel has a problem in Jenin — with an obvious, radical solution (Noa Shusterman Dvir, Forward)
Only when Israel invests in economic, political and diplomatic efforts within the West Bank — and curbs the elements within the Israeli government who wish to see the Palestinian Authority collapse — will we move forward to a time when more violence in and around Jenin is no longer a tragic certainty.
Top photo: The attack site in Tel Aviv on Tuesday (Moti Milrod)