Zürcher Nachrichten - Israel 'on offensive' after attacks as two women killed in W.Bank

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Israel 'on offensive' after attacks as two women killed in W.Bank
Israel 'on offensive' after attacks as two women killed in W.Bank

Israel 'on offensive' after attacks as two women killed in W.Bank

Israeli forces carried out fresh raids Sunday in the flashpoint West Bank district of Jenin, the home of gunmen who launched two recent deadly attacks, while two Palestinians were killed elsewhere in the occupied territory.

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As Israel was laying to rest three of its recent shooting victims, gun battles rocked the Jenin area for a second day, with at least 10 Palestinians wounded in clashes with the army, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

"The State of Israel has gone on the offensive," Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said after a cabinet meeting, vowing to "settle accounts with everyone who was linked, either directly or indirectly, to the attacks".

Israeli troops detained 20 Palestinians in and around Jenin, a bastion of Palestinian militant groups, a military source said.

The operation came after a gunman from Jenin went on a shooting rampage in a Tel Aviv nightlife area Thursday, killing three Israelis and wounding more than a dozen others -- the latest in a spate of bloody attacks in the Jewish state.

Militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad welcomed the Tel Aviv attack, which was condemned by Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

"This is a difficult day," Bennett said, "the day on which the three people who were murdered in the Tel Aviv terrorist attack are brought to rest."

- Knife attack -

Also on Sunday, Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian woman who had approached them near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem and failed to stop after they had fired warning shots, the military said.

The woman -- a widowed mother of six in her 40s named by the Palestinian news agency Wafa as Ghada Ibrahim Sabatien -- died after suffering massive blood loss, the Palestinian health ministry said.

The Islamic Jihad movement condemned her killing as an "execution in broad daylight".

And in the southern city of Hebron, a Palestinian woman stabbed and lightly wounded an Israeli border police officer before she was killed, Israeli police said.

But the centre of Sunday's heightened tensions was the Jenin area where, the Israeli military source told AFP, Palestinian militants shot from passing vehicles at Israeli soldiers, who responded with live fire.

A total of 20 "wanted individuals" suspected of involvement in "terrorist activities" were apprehended, the source said, while the Palestinian Prisoners Club announced 24 arrests across the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Israeli military source said forces had located stolen Israeli army ammunition and uniforms in the residence of one of the suspects, and an explosive device in another home.

No Israeli forces were reported injured, while the Palestinian health ministry said at least 10 Palestinians were wounded in clashes in Jenin and nearby.

- 'No limits' -

Tensions have surged during Ramadan, after violence flared during the Muslim holy month last year leading to 11 days of devastating conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

In recent weeks, Israel has been stunned by a string of attacks, some carried out by assailants linked to or inspired by the Islamic State group.

A total of 14 people have been killed in four attacks since March 22, including another shooting spree on March 29 in Bnei Brak, an Orthodox Jewish city near Tel Aviv, also carried out by a Palestinian attacker from Jenin.

Over the same period, at least 12 Palestinians have been killed, including assailants, according to a count by AFP.

Following Thursday's attack in Tel Aviv, Bennett gave security agencies "full freedom" to end the deadly violence, warning that "there are not and will not be limits for this war".

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

Thousands of Israelis meanwhile gathered Sunday to bury the victims of the Tel Aviv shootings.

In Kfar Saba, mourners wept for Tomer Morad, 27, as his girlfriend Ariel Weinblat spoke of her lost love.

"You came to me yesterday in a dream and said it's all a joke. I believed it. And then I woke up," she said in her eulogy. "I love you so much my heart is bleeding."

Eytam Magini, 27 and Barak Lufan, 35, were buried the same day.

L.Muratori--NZN