Israeli PM mobilises army, police reserves after deadly attacks

AFP , Friday 7 Apr 2023

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu mobilised police and army reserves late Friday after separate attacks killed three people in the West Bank and Tel Aviv in the latest escalation of deadly violence.

A person wounded in an attack is brought to a hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, April 7, 2023.
A person wounded in an attack is brought to a hospital in Tel Aviv, Israel, Friday, April 7, 2023. AP

 

​Despite appeals for restraint, violence has surged since Israeli police attack on Palestinians Wednesday inside Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque, with Israel bombarding both Gaza and Lebanon following rocket fire by Palestinian militants.

Israel's occupation army said it had launched a manhunt for the perpetrators of Friday's shooting in the occupied West Bank which killed two sisters and seriously wounded their mother.

It said the victims were fired on as their vehicle passed through Hamra junction in the northern part of the Jordan Valley. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

In central Tel Aviv, one man was killed and five people were wounded late Friday in a car-ramming attack, Israeli rescue services said.

"All the victims were tourists," the Magen David Adom emergency service said, without providing details on their nationalities.

Three people, including a 17-year-old, were moderately wounded, while two had light injuries, the rescue service added.

Shortly afterwards, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "instructed the Israel Police to mobilise all reserve border police units and has directed the IDF to mobilise additional forces", his office said.

Cross-border strikes

Friday's attacks came after Israel launched air strikes and an artillery bombardment before dawn in response to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip and Lebanon.

Israel "struck targets belonging to the Hamas terrorist organisation in southern Lebanon", the occupation army said.

AFP journalists heard explosions in Lebanon's Tyre region as well as in Gaza, where Israeli air raids began before midnight.

The Lebanese army said it had found and dismantled a multiple rocket launcher in an olive grove in the Marjayoun area near the border, still loaded with six primed rockets.

On Friday, Hezbollah deputy chief Naim Qassem said "the threats and intimidation of the Zionist leaders will lead nowhere".

Israeli Army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Richard Hecht had blamed Palestinian militants for the rocket fire from Lebanon.

The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), which patrols the area along the border, urged restraint, adding: "Both sides have said they do not want a war."

On Friday evening, the army said it had shot down a drone that entered Israel's airspace from Lebanon, without elaborating.

The Palestinian health ministry had earlier reported "partial damage" to the Al-Dorra children's hospital in Gaza City. 

Hamas condemned the "appalling Israeli aggression" and said it holds Israel "fully responsible for the consequences".

Mosque raid

A Qatari official on Friday said Doha was mediating between Israel and the Palestinians.

Doha -- which has previously mediated between Israel and Hamas -- "is working to deescalate the situation on all sides, with the latest contact being noon today," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The round of violence erupted fter Israeli riot police stormed the prayer hall of Al-Aqsa mosque on a Wednesday pre-dawn, firing tear gas and beating worshippers with clubs while they were participating in "Itikaf," a religious practice of seclusion inside mosques that is commonly observed during Ramadan.

The violence sparked an exchange of rockets and air strikes with militants in Gaza.

UN chief Antonio Guterres meanwhile has urged "all actors to exercise maximum restraint".

The United States said it recognised "Israel's legitimate right to defend itself", while France vowed "unwavering" support for "Israel's security and Lebanon's stability and sovereignty".

An Iran foreign ministry spokesperson "strongly condemned the attacks of the aggressor Zionist regime", and Russia called for "an end to the violence" and a "lasting ceasefire".

Hamas and Islamic Jihad told Egypt, a longstanding mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, that rocket fire would continue "if Israel continues its aggressions and air strikes but, if these aggressions stop, they will cease fire," Palestinian sources said.

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