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Three Israeli settlers wounded, one critically, in central Tel Aviv shooting

Israeli forces work at the scene of a shooting attack in central Tel Aviv, the Israeli-occupied territories, on March 9, 2023. (Photo by Reuters)

At least three Israeli settlers have been injured, including one critically, when a young Palestinian man opened fire at them in the Israeli coastal city of Tel Aviv, hours after Israeli forces killed three Palestinian men 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 then fled the scene before being shot dead in a shootout with police officers a short time later.

He was later 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.

The Palestinian man was shot dead by four armed individuals, including two Israeli police officers who were at the scene, one of whom was off duty. The other two included a settler and a reserve officer, Israeli officials said.

The injured settlers were evacuated to Ichilov Hospital. One of them arrived in critical condition after being shot in the neck. Another arrived in moderate condition with gunshot wounds, while the third was slightly injured by shrapnel, according to the medical staff at the hospital.

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 deadly Israeli military raids in the West Bank but did not explicitly take responsibility for the shooting.

"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.

Israeli forces stormed the West Bank town of Ni’lin, near Ramallah, shortly after midnight and raided the home of al-Khawaja.

The raid came after Israeli minister of military affairs Yoav Gallant ordered the troops to “immediately” begin work to demolish the Palestinian man’s home.

Earlier on Thursday, Israeli forces killed three Palestinians in a raid in Jenin in the northern occupied West Bank, less than 48 hours after six others were killed in another raid on the city.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the three men shot dead on Thursday morning were identified 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.”

Jawad Khaliliyeh, the Fatah party’s secretary in Jaba, told the official Palestinian news agency WAFA that Israeli forces fired at the car “from point-blank range.” He added that Israeli troops also surrounded a house and arrested the man who was in it.

Over the past months, Israel has ramped up attacks on Palestinian towns and cities throughout the occupied territories. As a result of these attacks, dozens of Palestinians have lost their lives and many others have been arrested.

Most of the raids have focused on Nablus and Jenin, where Israeli forces have been trying to stifle a growing Palestinian resistance in the occupied cities.

Local and international rights groups have condemned Israel’s excessive use of force and “shoot-to-kill policy” against Palestinians.

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