(Jerusalem) Israel is preparing to reinforce its troops on Saturday in the aftermath of two attacks that claimed the lives of three people, the latest episodes in a new cycle of violence in the Middle East.
Friday evening, an Italian tourist was killed on the Tel Aviv seafront and seven other people, aged 17 to 74, injured in a car bombing.
Police say the 45-year-old driver who was shot was from the Arab town of Kfar Kassem in central Israel.
Three people are still being treated at Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv for minor injuries, the facility said on Saturday.
Earlier Friday, two sisters from the Israeli settlement of Efrat, aged 16 and 20, were killed and their mother seriously injured in an attack in the West Bank.
The two sisters, of Israeli and British nationalities, were victims of Palestinian fire on their vehicle in the northeast of this Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
Following the attack in Tel Aviv, which occurred on a Sabbath evening and during Passover week, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu “ordered the Israeli police to mobilize all reserve units of the border police, and [the army] to mobilize additional forces to deal with terrorist attacks,” according to his office.
Police said four reserve border police battalions would be deployed to city centers on Sunday, in addition to units already mobilized in the mixed city of Lod and the Jerusalem area.
In the West Bank, the Israeli army said on Saturday that it came under fire overnight near the Palestinian village of Yabad (north).
The soldiers “fired in the direction of the attackers” who were in a vehicle and a person hit was “identified”, according to a press release.
The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas claimed the Tel Aviv attack was a “natural and legitimate response” to Israeli “aggression” on the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.
The current outbreak of fever indeed follows violence on Wednesday on the esplanade of the Mosques, the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism, also the epicenter of tensions in the Holy City.
The Israeli forces brutally burst inside this mosque to dislodge the faithful, in the middle of Ramadan, arousing many condemnations.
Netanyahu said Israeli forces were “forced to act to restore order” in the face of “extremists” barricaded in the mosque, while Hamas, which has waged several wars on Israel, denounced a ” unprecedented crime”.
After the violence, Israel carried out strikes targeting Hamas infrastructure in the Gaza Strip and southern Lebanon, in response to dozens of rockets being fired into its territory.
The Israeli army claimed that the unclaimed shots were “Palestinian”, and probably Hamas.
The European Union on Saturday condemned the attacks in Israel and the West Bank and the rocket attacks from Lebanon, calling for “restraint”.
On the Israeli-Lebanese front, this is an unprecedented escalation since 2006.
Hezbollah, a Lebanese Shia organization with a strong presence in southern Lebanon, claimed that “the entire axis of resistance is on high alert”, after supporting “all measures” that Palestinian groups could take against Israel.
Israel and Lebanon are technically in a state of war after different conflicts and the ceasefire line is controlled by the United Nations Interim Force (UNIFIL), deployed in southern Lebanon.
According to UNIFIL, “both sides have said they don’t want a war.”
Qatar, which has in the past mediated between Israel and the ruling Hamas in Gaza, is “working towards de-escalation” to “prevent carnage”, a Qatari official told AFP on Friday, under cover of the anonymity.
Since the beginning of January, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has claimed the lives of at least 91 Palestinians, 18 Israelis, a Ukrainian and an Italian, according to an AFP tally compiled from official Israeli and Palestinian sources.
These figures include, on the Palestinian side, combatants and civilians, including minors, and on the Israeli side, mostly civilians, including minors, and three members of the Arab minority.