Israel attacks Gaza after gunning civilian near fence

Image Source: AP (File)

Israel attacks Gaza after civilian injured by gunfire

An Israeli and three Palestinians were wounded on Wednesday in the first shootings in months along the Gaza border. The violence came as Israel announced measures aimed at improving living conditions in the occupied West Bank after a rare meeting of top officials. Israel has announced a series of measures in recent months, it says are aimed at de-escalating tensions, but they have had little effect on the ground, where attacks from both Israeli settlers and Palestinians are increasing. There have been no peace talks in over a decade.

The Israeli military said a civilian near the security fence was lightly wounded by gunfire from Gaza, and responded with tank fire at several military positions operated by the Hamas terrorist group, which has ruled the region since 2007. Is. The Gaza health ministry said three Palestinians were wounded, without saying whether they were civilians or fighters.

Earlier, Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz approved a series of measures aimed at improving relations with Palestinians after hosting Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas at his home in Israel late Tuesday. It was the first time since 2010 that Abbas met an Israeli official inside the country. The two discussed security coordination between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which manages the pockets of the occupied West Bank.

Gantz’s office said he approved “trust-building measures”, including the transfer of tax payments to the Palestinian Authority, the authorization of hundreds of permits for Palestinian businessmen and VIPs, and residency for thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Includes approval of status. ,

Israel collects hundreds of millions of dollars in taxes on behalf of the PA as part of interim peace agreements signed in the 1990s.

Tax transfers are a major source of funding for cash-strapped Palestinians, but Israel has withheld funds on payments of PA stipends to thousands of families of relatives killed, wounded or imprisoned in conflict. Israel says the payments encourage terrorism, while Palestinians say they provide vital aid to families in need.

Israel approved residency for about 9,500 Palestinians. Israel controls the Palestinian Population Registry, and over the years its policies have left an estimated tens of thousands of Palestinians without legal status, severely limiting their freedom of movement, even within the occupied territories. . Israel granted legal status to some 4,000 Palestinians in October.

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett is opposed to the Palestinian state. His government has shown no interest in reviving peace talks, but has said it wants to ease tensions by improving living conditions in the West Bank. In recent months there has been an increase in violence by Israeli settlers against Palestinians in the West Bank, as well as Palestinian attacks on Israelis in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Gantz’s meeting with Abbas – the second in six months since Bennett’s coalition government came to power – drew vociferous criticism from Israeli opposition lawmakers, including former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, the largest in parliament. Is. The Palestinians want an independent state that includes all of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, a territory occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

Hamas captured Gaza from Abbas’ forces in 2007, a year after the Islamic terrorist group won a landslide victory in parliamentary elections. Since then Gaza has been under an Israeli-Egyptian blockade. The Gaza border has been mostly calm since Israel and Hamas’ 11-day war in May – their fourth since Hamas captured Gaza. Israel holds Hamas responsible for all attacks from Gaza, even attacks claimed by other armed groups.

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