Israeli troops have begun withdrawing from the West Bank city of Jenin after a two-day operation that left 13 Palestinians dead – as residents of Gaza say the territory has been hit by airstrikes.
Israeli aircraft are reported to have launched the strikes at militant sites in the coastal Palestinian territory early on Wednesday.
It comes after thousands were forced from their homes and buildings and roads were destroyed in the Palestinian city of Jenin in one of Israel’s largest West Bank operations in years.
The Israeli military said one of its soldiers was killed in fighting late Tuesday but gave no further details.
Israel said its operation was aimed at destroying and confiscating weapons as it struck a Jenin refugee camp, known as a bastion of Palestinian militants, early Monday.
Security officials said the two-day operation was coming to an end on Wednesday as sporadic fighting between Israeli troops and Palestinian militants continued in parts of the refugee camp, delaying the pull-out.
Just after midnight, residents in the Jenin refugee camp said the army had left the area, and people began returning to the streets.
Palestinian health officials said 13 Palestinians had been killed and dozens wounded during the two-day operation.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military said militants in the Gaza Strip launched five rockets into Israel.
It said all of the rockets were intercepted, but the launches raised the risk of fighting on a second front.
Residents of the Gaza Strip later said Israeli aircraft had launched a series of airstrikes at militant sites in the coastal Palestinian territory.
The developments came hours after a Hamas militant rammed his car into a crowded Tel Aviv bus stop and began stabbing people, wounding eight, including a pregnant woman who reportedly lost her baby.
The attacker was killed by an armed bystander.
Hamas said the attack was revenge for the Israeli offensive.
Earlier on Tuesday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated the West Bank operation, one of the most intense in the territory in nearly two decades, was nearing its end.
However he vowed to carry out similar offensives in the future.
“At these moments we are completing the mission, and I can say that our extensive operation in Jenin is not a one-off,” he said.
As the pull-out was getting underway, the Israeli military said it carried out an airstrike targeting a militant cell located in a cemetery.
It said the gunmen threatened forces moving out of the camp.
There was no immediate word on casualties.
Israeli and Palestinian officials also reported fighting near a hospital in Jenin late Tuesday.
Big military bulldozers tore through alleyways, leaving heavy damage to roads and buildings, and thousands of residents fled the camp during the two-day operation.
People said electricity and water were knocked out.
The army says the bulldozers were necessary because roads were booby-trapped with explosives.
The military said it had confiscated thousands of weapons, bomb-making materials and caches of money. Weapons were found in militant hideouts and civilian areas alike, in one case beneath a mosque, the military said.
The large-scale raid comes amid a more than year-long spike in violence that has created a challenge for Mr Netanyahu’s far-right government, which is dominated by ultranationalists who have called for tougher action against Palestinian militants only to see the fighting worsen.
More than 140 Palestinians have been killed this year in the West Bank, and Palestinian attacks targeting Israelis have killed at least 25 people, including a shooting last month that killed four settlers.
Israel has been carrying out near daily raids in the West Bank in response to a series of deadly Palestinian attacks in early 2022.
It says the raids are meant to crack down on Palestinians militants and said they are necessary because the Palestinian Authority is too weak.
The Palestinians say such violence is the inevitable result of 56 years of occupation and the absence of any political process with Israel.
They also point to increased West Bank settlement construction and violence by extremist settlers.