Palestinian Stabs At Least 7 Passengers On Israel Bus

TOPSHOTS-ISRAEL-PALESTINIAN-CONFLICT-STABBING-TEL AVIVA Palestinian stabbed and wounded at least seven people on a Tel Aviv commuter bus during the morning rush hour on Wednesday before he was shot in the leg by a security officer as he fled, police and emergency services said.

Israeli authorities said the man was a 23-year-old from Tulkarm in the occupied West Bank, and had entered Israel without a work visa.

The incident occurred on Maariv bridge where the suspect attacked people both on and outside the bus, police said.

Police say they are treating the incident as a terrorist attack.

Three of the victims were in a serious condition, with four others in a moderate condition and three lightly wounded, according to the ambulance services.

“The terrorist had murder in his eyes,” one passenger, identified only as Orly said on Israel Radio.

Also a prisons’ service officer told army radio how the attack unfolded.

“We saw the bus swerve to the side… then stop at a green light,” the officer, identified only as Benny, said.

“Suddenly we saw people running out of the bus and when we saw them shouting for help, we jumped out… and started running after the terrorist. At first we fired in the air, then at his legs.”

As screaming passengers spilled out of the bus, prison officers in another vehicle at one of Tel Aviv’s busiest intersections saw the suspected attacker trying to flee and gave chase.

“The terrorist stabbed the bus driver several times but the driver fought back until he [the suspect] fled on foot and was neutralised by a guard from the prisons’ service,” a police statement said.

A senior official with the Palestinian militant group Hamas, Izzat Risheq,  has praised the stabbing attack.

Late last year, a number of Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinians using weapons including knives and even vehicles to run down pedestrians.

Palestinian Officials Say ‘Agreement Has Been Reached’

Palestinian boy cries as he stands in a debris-strewn street near his family's house in Rafah in the southern Gaza StripPalestinian officials said on Tuesday a Gaza ceasefire deal with Israel has been reached under Egyptian mediation and a formal announcement of an agreement was imminent.

There was no immediate confirmation from Israel, where a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declined to comment.

“An agreement has been reached between the two sides and we are awaiting the announcement from Cairo to determine the zero hour for implementation,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in Gaza.

A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, one of the Gaza militant groups that has been firing rockets into Israel, said the announcement could be made within two hours.

Cairo’s initiative, Palestinians officials said, called for an indefinite halt to seven weeks of hostilities, the immediate opening of Gaza’s blockaded crossings with Israel and Egypt and a widening of the enclave’s fishing zone in the Mediterranean.

Under a second stage that would begin a month later, Israel and the Palestinians would discuss the construction of a Gaza sea port and an Israeli release of Hamas prisoners in the occupied West Bank, the officials said.

Both Israel and Egypt view Hamas as a security threat and are demanding guarantees that weapons will not enter the economically crippled territory.

Increasing pressure on Palestinian militants to end their rocket strikes, Israel bombed more of Gaza’s tallest structures on Tuesday, bringing down a 13-storey apartment and office tower and destroying most of a 16-floor residential building.

The strikes flattened the Basha Tower and wrecked the Italian Complex, after occupants were warned to get out, and no deaths were reported.

Declining to comment specifically on the attacks, the Israeli military said it had hit 15 “terror sites”, including some in buildings that housed Hamas command and control centers.

Diplomats Seek To End Bloodshed Between Israel And Palestines

Palestinian medic inspects a damaged room at Al-Aqsa hospital, which witnesses said was damaged in Israeli shelling on Monday, in Deir El-Balah in the central Gaza Strip Israeli forces pounded multiple sites across the Gaza Strip on Wednesday, including the enclave’s sole power plant, and said it was meeting stiff resistance from Hamas Islamists, as diplomats sought to end the bloodshed.

In a blow to Israel’s economy, U.S. and European air carriers halted flights in and out of Tel Aviv citing security worries after a militant rocket from Gaza hit a house near the airport. Israel urged a re-think, saying its airspace was safe.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was in Egypt and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Israel, spearheading international efforts to secure a ceasefire. Hamas ally Qatar was also working in the background to seek a solution.

Israel launched its offensive on July 8 to halt missile salvoes by Hamas Islamists, which was angered by a crackdown on its supporters in the nearby occupied West Bank and suffering economic hardship because of an Israeli-Egyptian blockade.

After failing to halt the militant barrage through days of aerial bombardment, Israel sent ground troops into Gaza last Thursday, looking to knock out Hamas’s missile stores and destroy a vast, underground network of tunnels.

Some 630 Palestinians, many of them children and civilians have died in the conflagration, including a seven-year-old hit by a shell in southern Gaza early on Wednesday, a medic said.

Some 29 Israeli soldiers have been killed, including a tank officer who was shot by a Palestinian sniper overnight. Two civilians have been slain by rocket fire. The military says one of its soldiers is also missing and believes he might be dead. Hamas says it has seized him, but has not released his picture.

Clouds of black smoke hung over the densely populated Mediterranean enclave, with the regular thud of artillery and tank shells filling the air.

“We are meeting resistance around the tunnels … they are constantly trying to attack us around and in the tunnels. That is the trend,” said Israeli military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner.

He said 30 militant gunmen had been killed overnight, bringing the total to 210 since the offensive started.

Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz el-Deen Al-Qassam, said its fighters had detonated an anti-personnel bomb as an Israeli army patrol passed, killing several troops. There was no immediate confirmation from Israel.

There was also violence in the occupied West Bank, where a Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli troops near Bethlehem. The army said soldiers fired a rubber bullet at him during clashes with Palestinians hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails.

 

Hamas And Israel Resume Hostilities After Humanitarian Cease Fire

A Palestinian family gathers inside their damaged home, which police said was targeted in an Israeli air strike, in Gaza CityPalestinians rushed to shops and banks on Thursday as a five-hour humanitarian truce agreed by Israel and Hamas came into force, hours after the Israeli military said it had fought off gunmen who infiltrated from Gaza.

About a dozen Palestinian fighters tunnelled under the border, emerging near an Israeli community. At least one was killed when an Israeli aircraft bombed the group, the military said.

The break in 10 days of fighting was requested by the United Nations to allow residents of the Gaza strip, ruled by the Hamas group viewed by Israel as terrorists, to gather supplies and repair some of the infrastructure damaged.

At least 224 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed, Gaza health officials say. In Israel, one civilian has been killed by fire from Gaza, where the Israeli military says more than 1,300 rockets have been launched into the Jewish state in strikes that have made a race to shelters a routine for hundreds of thousands of people.

Israel’s military, which government officials said was poised to expand its air and naval bombardments into possible ground operations, said it would respond “firmly and decisively” if militants launched attacks during the truce.

In Gaza City, hundreds of Palestinian lined up outside banks to collect salaries paid directly into their accounts, while others went food shopping. Gaza roads almost deserted over days of conflict were filled again with traffic.

“We are here to get paid. Thank God for the calm and we hope it lasts,” said Zakaria Ahmed, 35. “We hope Egypt brings a good truce, we hope the killing will stop and (Gaza’s border) crossings will open.”

After the early morning clash over the tunnel, and before the five-hour ceasefire began, air raid sirens sounded across Israel, including in the Tel Aviv area, the country’s heartland, warning of a heavy barrage of incoming rockets.

The military said that at least one rocket was intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system and another fell in a town near Tel Aviv. There were no reports of casualties.

Also, before the pause in fighting, an Israeli aircraft bombed a house in Rafah in southern Gaza, killing three people and wounding several others, medical officials said.

However, Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian militants have since the resumed hostilities in Gaza after the temporary humanitarian cease-fire came to an end.

 

There were no reports of violations of the truce but U.N. Humanitarian Coordinator for the Palestinian Territories, James Rawley told VOA that the violence resumed shortly after the cease-fire expired.

“Rockets have been going out of Gaza and airstrikes and naval bombardment has resumed on Gaza,” he said, “so once again the people of Gaza are suffering and probably dying, and the people of Israel are also being victimized by rockets and mortars going out of Gaza”, he said.

Israel Boosts Forces Near Gaza As Border Heats Up

A Palestinian inspects a crater which police said was caused by an Israeli air strike in Gaza CityIsrael said on Thursday that it was beefing up its forces along its frontier with the Gaza Strip, in what it called a defensive deployment in response to persistent Palestinian cross-border rocket attacks.

Israel also faced the challenge of a further eruption of Palestinian anger in Jerusalem, where violent protests broke out on Wednesday after the body of a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was discovered in a forest on the edge of the city.

Israeli police are investigating the possibility that he was the victim of a revenge killing over the deaths of three Jewish teenagers, whose abduction on June 12 Israel has been blamed on Islamist Hamas militants in the occupied West Bank.

A military spokesman, Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, said troops were taking up “defense positions” in Israeli communities that have been struck by the rockets from Gaza. He did not comment on the scale of the deployment.

It is the first time since the border began to heat up in mid June – in tandem with an Israeli military sweep and search for the three abducted Israeli youths in the West Bank – that Israel has announced troop movements near the Gaza Strip.

“We are moving and we have moved forces,” Lerner said in a conference call with foreign journalists. “Everything we are doing is to de-escalate the situation but on the other hand to be prepared if they don’t de-escalate.”

Israel, he said, has “no interest in deepening the conflict with Gaza – the absolute opposite is true”.

Jerusalem was quiet on Thursday but tensions remained high in anticipation of Mohammed Abu Khudair’s funeral. No time has been set for the burial, an event that will stir strong emotions among Palestinians and could trigger further confrontation.

The military said Palestinians in the Gaza Strip fired 14 projectiles into Israel on Thursday and that rockets struck two homes in the southern town of Sderot, causing no casualties.

Israel launched air strikes against at least three Hamas training facilities in Gaza, residents said, adding that 15 people had been injured.

U.N. Human Rights Chief, Navi Pillay, condemned both Israelis and Palestinians on Thursday for the latest flare-up of violence across the Gaza border and also Abu Khudair’s killing.

“From a Human Rights point of view, I utterly condemn these rocket attacks and more especially I condemn Israel’s excessive acts of retaliation,” Pillay told journalists in Vienna.

Israeli Evict Protesting Palestinians From A Site For Housing

Israeli police have evicted Palestinian and International activists from an area of the West Bank, where Israel is planning a fresh settlement building.

They had put up around 20 tents in the area called E1, between Jerusalem and a Jewish settlement.

Israel’s Supreme Court had ruled on Friday that the encampment could remain for six days.

Palestinians fear, is  building in E1 would threaten the viability of a future Palestinian state.

A police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said that police officers had removed the activists one by one, without any use of force, aside from some pushing and shoving, and that the police operation was over within an hour. But a spokeswoman for the protesters, Abir Kopty, said that six Palestinians had sought hospital treatment for injuries, some caused by punches to the face.

The encampment, which the protesters called the village of Bab al-Shams (Arabic for “Gate of the Sun”), represented a new kind of action by Palestinian grass-roots activists involved in what they describe as the nonviolent popular struggle against the Israeli occupation.