Israeli Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich has dismissed reports published by an Israeli channel that his ministry transferred tax money to the Palestinian Authority.

According to the Israeli media, Smotrich categorically denied the news reported by Israeli TV Channel 12 that his ministry transferred tax money to the Palestinian Authority prior to the visit of US Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Smotrich described the report as a complete lie, adding that his ministry is planning a series of punitive measures against the PA for the latter’s alleged encouragement of what he described as “terrorism”. This comes amid Israel’s escalation of security measures against Palestinians.

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Israeli police on Saturday raised the alert on Saturday, a day after seven settlers were killed in a shooting attack near a synagogue in occupied East Jerusalem, reports Anadolu Agency.

Israeli public broadcaster KAN said Police Commissioner Yaakov Shabtai ordered the alert to be raised to the highest level following Friday’s attack.

Israel identified the synagogue attack as Khairi Alqam, a 21-year-old resident of East Jerusalem. Police said the attacker was shot dead as he attempted to escape the scene of the attack on foot.

Meanwhile, Israeli police said its forces had detained 42 relatives and neighbors of Alqam for questioning into the attack.

Friday’s attack came a day after nine Palestinians were killed and dozens injured in an Israeli military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin.

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Hira Menon

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