On Thu., Hamas issued a statement praising Mutaz al-Khawaja for carrying out a shooting attack near a Tel-Aviv café that left three people wounded. The terror strike follows an ongoing wave of violence gripping the West Bank and Israel since the summer of 2021.
Hamas did not explicitly state that it was behind the shooting in its statement but suggested that it played a role and warned more assaults would be carried out.
“It is with great pride that we mourn the al-Qassami Brigade [identifying him as Hamas], al-Mutaz Billah Salah al-Khawaja. We honor his heroic deed, and we promise the unlawful occupation with even more,” the statement said.
Hamas detailed the reasons behind the shooting, and in part, blamed recent Israeli operations in the West Bank as a factor.
“As we condole the martyr’s family and supporters, and bless his heroic operation, we confirm that the latter only came as the natural response to the assassination crime this morning in the town of Jaba’, the Jenin massacre on Tuesday, as well as the daily crimes that the occupation increasingly committed against our people, cities, and sanctities with the crude instigation of the fascist occupational government,” the statement said.
Israeli and Palestinian media identified Khawaja as a resident of the West Bank town of Ni’lin, near Ramallah. Reports also said that Khawaja was affiliated with Hamas and had served time in prison for security offenses.
On Fri., two Arab Israelis turned themselves in for driving Khawaja to the scene.
Thursday’s attack in Tel Aviv follows an ongoing wave of violence that started after the May 2021 Gaza-Israel conflict. It began with a rise in armed clashes between Palestinian militants and Israeli security forces in the West Bank in June. And was followed in 2022 by the establishment of armed groups affiliated with Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, and Hamas in several West Bank cities and villages. In late Aug., the Nablus-based Lions’ Den was formed by several militants affiliated with al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades. [See FDD’s Long War Journal report, Analysis: West Bank Violence Trending Upward.]