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Israeli minister orders police to prepare for major offensive on al-Quds

An Israeli soldier uses a weapon amid clashes with Palestinian protesters in al-Khalil (Hebron), the occupied West Bank, April 1, 2022. (File photo by Reuters)

Israeli minister Itamar Ben-Gvir has ordered the regime’s police force to prepare for a major offensive in al-Quds, after a Palestinian man allegedly carried out a car-ramming in the occupied territories that killed at least two settlers.

Ben-Gvir announced in a statement on Friday that after assessing the situation at the Israeli police headquarters in al-Quds, he instructed the police forces to be prepared for "Defensive Shield 2" operation in the holy city starting from Sunday.

He referred to a major Israeli offensive called 'Defensive Shield' order by former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon that led to dozens of deaths among Palestinians in the occupied West Bank.

According to the statement, the new offensive aims to fight "terrorism." 

Ben-Gvir has a long history of inciting violence against Palestinians. He has maintained his hard-line views after becoming a minister in Benjamin Netanyahu’s far-right cabinet.

Late last month, he threatened Palestinians involved in retaliatory operations against Israeli military forces and settlers with “electric chairs.”

He also issued an order last week for a five-fold increase in the number of new gun permits for settlers in occupied territories.

Ben-Gvir’s statements regarding the new large-scale offensive were widely criticized by Israeli authorities.

A senior Israeli regime official reported by Hebrew media stated, "Decisions of such a scale are not made in statements by one minister or another on a sidewalk at the scene of an attack."

“Such decisions will be made at least after consulting with all security authorities and, of course, presenting it to the cabinet if necessary, and after that the prime minister can make any decision he wants.”

Yair Lapid, the head of the opposition of the Israeli regime, also criticized Ben-Gvir’s decision in a tweet, saying the minister ordered this operation without consulting the cabinet, assessing the situation and coordination among security forces.

Two Israeli settlers were pronounced dead and five others were injured when a Palestinian man allegedly carried out a car-ramming at a bus stop in the Ramot Alon settlement north of al-Quds on Friday.

Palestinian media outlets identified the Palestinian as Hussain Karaka, a 31-year-old resident of Bethlehem’s Dheisha refugee camp, who was fatally shot by Israeli forces on Friday afternoon.

The incident came amid increased Israeli violence against Palestinians in the occupied territories, especially in the West Bank.

Israeli forces have ramped up attacks against Palestinian towns in recent months in a bid to stifle growing Palestinian resistance in occupied cities. Dozens of Palestinians have lost their lives and many others have been arrested. In January 2023 alone, at least 38 Palestinians, including five children, were killed.

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