Two Palestinian women killed as Israel 'on offensive' after attacks

Two Palestinian women killed as Israel 'on offensive' after attacks
As Israel was laying to rest three of its recent shooting victims, at least 10 Palestinians were wounded by the Israeli army on Sunday, the Palestinian health ministry said, as gun battles in the Jenin area continued.
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'The State of Israel has gone on the offensive,' Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said [RONEN ZVULUN/POOL/AFP/Getty]

Israeli forces carried out fresh raids on Sunday in Palestine's flashpoint occupied West Bank district of Jenin, the home of gunmen who launched two recent deadly attacks, while Israeli authorities killed two Palestinian women elsewhere in the occupied territory.

As Israel was laying to rest three of its recent shooting victims, at least 10 Palestinians were wounded by the Israeli army, the Palestinian health ministry said, as gun battles continued in the Jenin area for a second day.

"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 military source said.

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

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the Tel Aviv attack, while militant groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad welcomed it.

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"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 because she looked "suspicious" as she walked near a checkpoint near the southern West Bank city of Bethlehem, according to an Israeli forces spokesperson, who said she had been unarmed.

The military claimed she had approached and failed to stop after they had fired warning shots, but footage shared online showed the woman had raised her arms as she attempted to flee while Israeli forces opened fire at her.

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

Rights groups have repeatedly slammed Israeli forces for showing "appalling disregard for human life" by using "reckless and unlawful lethal force" against Palestinians.

Amnesty International has repeatedly urged an end to the "worrying rise in unlawful killings by Israeli forces, fostered by a culture of impunity".

And in the southern city of Hebron, the Israeli police killed another Palestinian woman, allegedly after she stabbed and lightly wounded an Israeli border police officer.

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

A total of 20 individuals were arrested over alleged involvement in "terrorist activities", the source said, while the Palestinian Prisoners Club announced 24 arrests were made across the West Bank, which Israel has illegally 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 by Israeli troops in Jenin and nearby.

 'No limits'

Tensions have surged during Ramadan, after violence flared during the Muslim holy month last year, with Israel launching a deadly 11-day bombing campaign against the Gaza Strip. This killed over 250 Palestinians, while rocket fire from Hamas and other Gaza militants killed 13 in Israel.

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 22 March, including another shooting spree on 29 March 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 on 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.