‘Pay the price’: Israel hunts attackers who stabbed 3 to death

Knife rampage on Thursday, Israel’s Independence Day, was the latest in a series of deadly assaults inside the country.

Israeli forces have searched for assailants who carried out a stabbing rampage near Tel Aviv that killed three Israelis before they fled in a vehicle.

Police said they were hunting on Friday for two suspects, 19 and 20 years old, from the town of Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Several perpetrators of recent attacks have come from in or around Jenin, and Israeli forces have launched raids that have ignited gun battles there.

“We will get our hands on the terrorists and their supportive environment, and they will pay the price,” Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said after meeting senior officials late Thursday.

Medics described a horrific scene in Elad, an ultra-Orthodox town near Tel Aviv. In addition to the three killed, four others were wounded, one critically.

The stabbing on Thursday, Israel’s Independence Day, was the latest in a series of deadly assaults inside the country in recent weeks – the worst violence Israel has seen in years. It came as Israeli-Palestinian tensions were already heightened by violence and repeated incursions by Israeli forces at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose government administers autonomous zones in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and cooperates with Israel on security, condemned the attack.

“The killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians leads only to more deterioration at a time when all of us try to achieve stability and prevent escalation,” the official Wafa news agency quoted him as saying.

The Palestinian group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, praised the attack and linked it to violence at the Jerusalem holy site.

“The storming of Al-Aqsa Mosque can’t go unpunished,” Hamas Spokesperson Hazem Qassem said. “The heroic operation in Tel Aviv is a practical translation of what the resistance had warned against.”

Israel and Hamas fought an 11-day war a year ago, fueled in large part by similar unrest in Jerusalem.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and occupied East Jerusalem — which includes Al-Aqsa and other major religious sites — in the 1967 Middle East war.

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