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Israel Police said seven people were injured after a car rammed pedestrians in Tel Aviv on Tuesday, as its security forces continued a major raid in the Jenin refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.
An Israel Police spokesman said the driver then got out of the car and stabbed bystanders before being “incapacitated”. Doctors said they were treating five people for injuries.
The incident came after hundreds of Israeli soldiers, backed by armed drones, continued their raid on Jenin after entering the camp in the early hours of Monday, Israel’s largest operation inside the West Bank for two decades.
Ten Palestinians were killed in the raid and hundreds of families were forced to flee, buildings and roads in the densely populated camp were also destroyed.
An Israeli army spokesman said there had been no major overnight fighting between soldiers and militants, but Israeli forces were still operating in Jenin on Tuesday and had 10 sites in the camp that they intended to search. “If we have friction with terrorists, we will also fight with them,” he wrote on Twitter.
Palestinian health officials said on Tuesday that in addition to the 10 dead, more than 100 people were injured, 20 of them seriously. An Israeli soldier was also injured.
The Red Crescent said earlier that around 500 families had been evacuated from the camp, which is home to around 14,000 people, but that by midnight Israeli forces had closed its entrances.
The raid, which the Israeli military said was part of a “widespread counter-terrorism effort”, follows a year of spiraling violence in the West Bank that has raised fears that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the edge of a new eruption.
This year is already on track to be the deadliest in the West Bank – which Palestinians seek as the heart of a future state, but which Israel has occupied since 1967 – since the UN began collecting data in 2005.
According to the latest UN figures, which do not include the most recent fighting, Israeli forces have killed 114 Palestinians in the territory this year, while Palestinians have killed 16 Israelis.
Violence has reached new levels in the past two weeks, with Israel deploying helicopter gunships and armed drones over the West Bank for the first time since the early 2000s, when 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis are died in a Palestinian uprising known as the Second Intifada.
The impoverished Jenin camp, a stronghold for militants from several Palestinian factions, has become the center of violence, with Israeli forces attacking it several times over the past 18 months.
The Israeli army said on Tuesday it destroyed two “situation rooms”, an explosives magazine and a grenade launcher belonging to militant groups, and confiscated weapons and other military equipment.
Médecins Sans Frontières, an aid group, said Israeli army bulldozers had destroyed several roads leading to the camp, “making it almost impossible for ambulances to reach patients”.
“Palestinian paramedics were forced to move on foot, in an area with active gunfire and drone strikes,” the group said.
The Red Crescent said its team in the camp had been denied access to some places and had “great difficulty” moving around due to the destruction.
Leaders of Arab and Muslim countries condemned the raid, with Algeria’s foreign ministry saying it “violates (d) all international norms and laws and the most basic human values”. The Turkish Foreign Ministry has warned that this could trigger “a new spiral of violence”.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who leads the most right-wing government in the country’s history, defended the operation, insisting that Israel was “determining a new equation against terrorism”.
“Our guiding principle is simple: anyone who murders Israelis, anyone who conspires to murder us, will either be in jail or in the grave,” he said at an event Monday night.