Shooting, Massive Protests Hit Tel Aviv
TEL AVIV (Dispatches) -- At least three settlers were injured, including one critically, when a young Palestinian man opened fire at them in Tel Aviv, hours after Zionist forces martyred three Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli police said the Palestinian man opened fire at the settlers outside a cafe on the corner of Dizengoff Street and Ben Gurion Street on Thursday night. He fled the scene before being shot dead in a shootout with police officers.
He was identified as 23-year-old Mutaz Salah al-Khawaja, a Palestinian man from the West Bank town of Ni’lin who had been twice jailed by Israeli forces.
Palestinian resistance movement Hamas said in a statement that Khawaja was a member of its military wing – the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades.
It said the attack was a “natural response” to recent Israeli military raids in the West Bank.
“The occupiers wanted to bring the Palestinian people to their knees, but this operation deep in the occupation regime means the determination of the Palestinians to stand against the occupation,” Dawood Shehab, a spokesman for the Islamic Jihad movement, said.
Zionist forces stormed Ni’lin shortly after midnight and raided Khawaja’s home.
Earlier on Thursday, Israeli forces martyred three Palestinians in a raid in Jenin, less than 48 hours after six others were martyred in another raid by the occupying regime on the city.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the three men shot dead on Thursday morning as Ahmad Fashafsheh, 22, Sufian Fakhouri, 26, and Nayef Malaysheh, 25.
They were fatally shot inside a car in the village of Jaba, south of Jenin, in what has been described by Palestinians as an “execution.”
On Friday, a young Palestinian man has died after he was shot by an Israeli settler east of the West Bank city of Qalqiliya.
Health officials identified the victim as 21-year-old Abdul-Karim Badie Sheikh, a resident of Sanniriya town. He was fatally shot outside the illegal Karnei Shomron settlement on Friday morning, official news agency Wafa reported.
The shooting in Tel Aviv came after thousands of demonstrators blocked traffic into the departures area at Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv and clashed with military forces, where Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin landed for talks.
Police fired tear gas to disperse the crowds and arrested several people during “a day of resistance” protests which were timed to coincided with Austin’s arrival and prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s trip abroad.
Austin had to hastily reschedule the visit due to a surge in street protests against Netanyahu’s plan to overhaul the judiciary which is putting Israel on an extremist path.
The Pentagon chief met Netanyahu at the airport for more than an hour and was due to hold talks with his Israeli counterpart Yoav Galant, reports said.
Austin had originally been due to arrive on Wednesday and stay overnight in Tel Aviv, where the Zionist regime’s war ministry is based. But those plans were changed due to traffic disruptions from protests.
Netanyahu was flown to the airport early in the morning by a helicopter in order to avoid the protesters. He was due to leave Ben Gurion airport for a two-day visit to Rome on Thursday afternoon.
Police minister Itamar Ben-Gvir was at the airport coordinating the response to the protests. Mounted police moved into the area in an attempt to move the protesters.
Elsewhere, protesters in Tel Aviv headed towards Ayalon highway, where police were on standby with water cannons. The highway has been a key flashpoint between demonstrators and police in recent weeks.
The occupied territories have been rocked by the biggest wave of protests for more than a decade, with hundreds of thousands of Israelis joining weekly demonstrations against changes they regard as a fundamental threat to the entity, with several figures warning that the worsening strife might lead to its disintegration.
In a sign of the widening scope of public anger, a group of reservists from an elite air force squadron said this week that they would not take part in training flights.