Zürcher Nachrichten - One dead as Israel army raids W.Bank after deadly attacks

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One dead as Israel army raids W.Bank after deadly attacks
One dead as Israel army raids W.Bank after deadly attacks

One dead as Israel army raids W.Bank after deadly attacks

Israeli security forces raided the flashpoint West Bank district of Jenin on Saturday killing a Palestinian and wounding others, after vowing there will "not be limits" to curb surging violence.

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The ongoing operation came after an alleged gunman from Jenin went on a shooting rampage in a popular Tel Aviv nightlife area on Thursday evening, killing three Israelis and wounding more than a dozen others.

After that attack, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he had given security agencies "full freedom" to end a surge in deadly violence since March 22 "in order to defeat terror".

"There are not and will not be limits for this war," Bennett said Friday, speaking hours after the gunman opened fire on a street of crowded bars and restaurants.

The army on Saturday said troops had launched an operation in the city of Jenin, in the north of the occupied West Bank, its Palestinian refugee camp and adjacent villages.

The Palestinian health ministry said that at least one Palestinian man had been killed by Israeli gunfire and five others wounded. Crowds of mourners marched through the streets carrying the young man's body to be buried.

-'Armed assailants' -

Israeli soldiers and border police forces were "conducting counterterrorism activity" in the city of Jenin and its refugee camp, where gunmen had opened fire "endangering their lives," the army said in a statement.

"In response, the troops are firing towards the armed assailants," the army said, adding there were no injuries among Israeli ranks.

"An M16 assault rifle used by an assailant to attack the troops was confiscated," it added.

The Jenin refugee camp -- the focus of Saturday's operation -- is a stronghold of armed factions, where three other Palestinians linked to an anti-Israeli attack were killed by the army last week.

Saturday's raid comes a day after Israel said it had killed Raad Hazem, 28, the alleged Tel Aviv attacker.

On Friday, Bennett said he had granted "full freedom of action to the army, the Shin Bet (the domestic security agency) and all security forces in order to defeat the terror".

Bennett also ordered the closure of the Jalameh checkpoint between the Jenin area and Israel, while the army's chief of staff told troops to step up operations, particularly in the northern West Bank.

Around the same time, the father of the Tel Aviv attacker, Fathi Hazem -- a retired Palestinian security forces officer according to Palestinian sources -- struck a defiant tone.

Speaking to hundreds at the family home in Jenin, he said the Palestinian people were looking for "freedom and independence".

A total of 14 people have been killed in attacks in Israel since March 22, including some carried out by assailants linked to or inspired by the Islamic State group.

Over the same period, at least 10 Palestinians have been killed, including assailants.

- Ramadan violence -

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas and the Islamic Jihad group praised the Tel Aviv attack -- drawing criticism from the UN -- but did not claim responsibility.

Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas denounced the Tel Aviv attack, while the United States stressed anew its support of key ally Israel.

The Tel Aviv attack killed three Israeli men: childhood friends Tomer Morad and Eytam Magini, as well as father of three Barak Lufan.

It came amid heightened tensions during Ramadan, after violence that flared during the Muslim holy month last year between Israeli forces and Palestinians led to 11 days of devastating conflict between Israel and Hamas.

Earlier this month Israeli security forces killed three Islamic Jihad militants when they came under fire during an operation to arrest them in Jenin.

The raid, in which four Israeli soldiers were wounded, followed another deadly attack on March 29 in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city near Tel Aviv.

The Palestinian assailant had also come from Jenin, and killed two Israeli civilians, two Ukrainian nationals and an Arab-Israeli policeman using an assault rifle.

R.Bernasconi--NZN