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Ramallah rejects attacks on civilians after Tel Aviv shooting

Abbas’s office says it opposes all such ‘operations… from any party’; earlier, his Fatah group blamed Israeli occupation for violence

Israeli security forces at the scene where two terrorists opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016.(Moti Karelitz/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene where two terrorists opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv, on June 8, 2016.(Moti Karelitz/Flash90)

The office of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday expressed a general rejection of violence against civilians, though it didn’t specifically name the deadly terror attack in Tel Aviv that took place a day earlier.

“The presidency has repeatedly rejected all operations against civilians from any party, no matter the justification,” read a statement from Abbas’s office provided to The Times of Israel.

The presidency stressed that “to achieve a just peace, everyone must refrain from acts that will increase tension and resorting to violence.”

“The realization of a just peace, and creating a positive climate, that is what will lead to the lowering of tension and violence in the region,” the statement added.

Four people were killed in the terror attack Wednesday night at the Sarona Market shopping complex in Tel Aviv, and another 16 were injured, including three in serious condition.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed “decisive action” to track down those responsible for the third deadly attack in the city this year, and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said Israel “would not suffice with just words” in its response.

President Reuven Rivlin visit the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv on June 9, 2016, the morning after a deadly terror attack at the site. (Mark Neiman/GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin visit the Sarona Market shopping center in Tel Aviv on June 9, 2016, the morning after a deadly terror attack at the site. (Mark Neiman/GPO)

Netanyahu and other Israeli officials have consistently maintained that Abbas and other Palestinian officials have failed to sufficiently condemn terror attacks against Israelis, accusing them of supporting and inciting violence.

On Wednesday night a Twitter account attributed to Abbas’s Fatah party issued a statement saying Israel was “reaping the repercussions of choosing violence against the Palestinian people.”

In April, Abbas issued a statement rejecting violence after a bus bombing in Jerusalem injured 21 people, but also indicated he did not think his words had much effect.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas waves to media during opening the Palestinian Museum to the public in the West Bank town of Bir Zeit , Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas waves to media during opening the Palestinian Museum to the public in the West Bank town of Bir Zeit , Wednesday, May 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

“I am against these attacks and I have said this over and over again.” But if a young Palestinian loses hope, “then he or she doesn’t care if I condemn their deeds,” Abbas told German newspaper Der Spiegel in an interview In April.

In March he told an Israeli interviewer that he was against stabbings and only supported peaceful Palestinian resistance.

Israel has consistently complained of Palestinian incitement such as praise for attacks as a leading cause for a wave of terrorism that gripped Israel from October to March. Thirty-three Israelis and four foreigners have been killed in the violence, and some 200 Palestinian were also killed, some two-thirds of them while carrying out attacks and the rest in clashes with Israeli forces, according to Israel.

The Hamas terror group said the two gunmen were members of the organization and openly praised the deadly Tel Aviv attack, saying it came in response to unspecified Israeli “violations” at the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.

“The Tel Aviv operation is a natural response to Israeli desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the crimes against the Palestinian people,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a statement, without specifying what the so-called violations and crimes were.

The attack came during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, typically a time of increased religious tensions.

Israeli medical and security forces at the scene where a suspect terrorist opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center, Tel Aviv, June 8, 2016. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)
Israeli medical and security forces at the scene where a suspect terrorist opened fire at the Sarona Market shopping center, Tel Aviv, June 8, 2016. (Ben Kelmer/Flash90)

A spokesperson for Palestinian Islamic Jihad also threatened more attacks, saying that the “Jerusalem Intifada” will not end until “all of Palestine is restored.”

“He who bets on the decline of the Jerusalem Intifada is taking a losing bet. Our people will continue this intifada and defend its right until the defeat of the occupation and the restoration of all of Palestine,” spokesman Daud Shahab said.

The two suspects were named in Palestinian media reports as Muhammad and Khalid Muhamra. One of the men was shot by a security guard and seriously injured; the second was arrested by police and taken in for questioning. Both came from the West Bank town of Yatta, south of Hebron.

IDF troops surrounded the town early Thursday morning and security forces raided the home of one of the terrorists and interrogated the family. Israeli security agencies were working to determine how they entered Israel from the West Bank.

Israeli soldiers man a temporary checkpoint at the entrance of the Palestinian town of Yatta in the West Bank on June 9,2016. (AFP/HAZEM BADE)
Israeli soldiers man a temporary checkpoint at the entrance of the Palestinian town of Yatta in the West Bank on June 9,2016. (AFP/HAZEM BADE)

The Defense Ministry said it was freezing tens of thousands of permits given to Palestinians to travel to Israel during the Muslim Ramadan holy month as well as taking other punitive measures.

The security cabinet was meeting Thursday at IDF headquarters in the Kirya in central Tel Aviv, near the scene of the attack, to discuss further responses.

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