Abbas rejects violence against civilians

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. (Abbas Momani, AFP)
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. (Abbas Momani, AFP)

Ramallah - Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's office said on Thursday it rejected violence against civilians after Palestinian gunmen killed four people in Tel Aviv, but stopped short of condemning the attack outright.

The presidency said in a statement it has "rejected repeatedly all operations that affect civilians from whichever party it comes from, and whatever the justifications."

"Achieving a just peace and creating a positive climate is what will contribute to removing and reducing the causes of tension and violence in this region."

Abbas has repeatedly called for non-violent resistance to Israeli occupation, but has never condemned a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks that began in October.

He has said that the true cause of the violence is Israel's occupation of the West Bank and continuous settlement building, which Abbas says have robbed young Palestinians of any hope in the future.

Israel says incitement from Palestinian media and leaders are a major cause of the violence.

Abbas's rival Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip and calls for Israel's destruction, called the attack a "heroic operation."

Israeli officials highlighted Hamas's reaction and pointed to what they said were joyous celebrations in parts of the West Bank after Wednesday night's attack.

They also noted in contrast that one of the attackers was treated in an Israeli hospital after being shot.

Two Palestinian gunmen opened fire at a Tel Aviv cafe on Wednesday night, killing four Israelis and wounding five others.

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