Israel claims thwarts further knife attacks, 3 Palestinians killed

Reuters , Saturday 17 Oct 2015

West Bank
Israeli policeman shoots tear gas during clashes with Palestinians near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015 (AP)

Three Palestinians were shot dead on Saturday in what Israel claimed were thwarted knife attacks, but a Palestinian witness of one incident said it was a result of Israeli settler violence, as tensions ran high after more than two weeks of unrest.

At least 40 Palestinians and seven Israelis have died in the violence, which was in part triggered by Palestinians' anger over what they see as increased Israeli encroachment on Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Israeli occupation border police had stopped to question a 16-year-old Palestinian walking in "a suspicious manner" through a neighborhood around East Jerusalem, a police spokesman said. The teenager drew a knife and tried to stab the officers, who shot him dead, the spokesman said.

A second shooting occurred near an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron. The Israeli occupation military said a Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli civilian, who was carrying a gun and then shot and killed the attacker.

A Palestinian high schooler, who witnessed the Hebron shooting, said it happened when Israeli settlers attacked an unarmed Palestinian, according to the girl's father who spoke with Reuters.

Also in Hebron, a female Palestinian stabbed an Israeli border policewoman, cutting her hand, a police spokesman claimed. The policewoman managed to shoot the attacker, he said.

More than 40 Palestinians have been killed in the last two weeks, including knife-wielding assailants and protesters shot by Israeli occupation forces during rock-throwing confrontations. Seven Israelis have died in random attacks in the street or on buses.

Israel says it is keeping the status quo at the holy compound, which is also revered by settlers as the location of two destroyed biblical Jewish temples.

Peace talks collapsed in 2014 over Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Palestinians seek for a state, and after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas angered Israel by reaching a unity deal with the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

The last major confrontation was the Israeli offensive on Gaza in 2014, which left large sections of Gaza destroyed. Around 2,100 Palestinians, and 73 Israelis, were killed.

The United States has stepped up efforts to try to restore calm to the region. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas to discuss ways to end the violence.

Kerry and Netanyahu will meet next week in Germany.

Palestinians have been protesting for weeks against Israel's attempts to build more settlements in east Jerusalem and force out Arab residents of the city that is meant to be a capital for any future Palestinian state.

Palestinians have also been protesting repeated Israeli and illegal Jewish settler attacks on Al-Aqsa mosque and closing the Muslim holy site on a number of occasions to worshippers.

The crisis started in late July when an 18-month old toddler Ali Dawabsha was burned to death and three other Palestinians were severely injured after their house in the occupied West Bank was set on fire by Israeli settlers.

The settlers smashed the windows of two homes in the village of Duma near Nablus and threw Molotov cocktails inside the buildings. Dawabsha died after sustaining serious burns.

The parents of the toddler, Riham and Saad, and their other son Ahmad lost their lives after suffering serious injuries as a result of the attack.

* The story was edited by Ahram Online.

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