Palestinians shot dead after Jerusalem, West Bank attacks

HEBRON, Palestinian Territories (AFP) - Israeli security forces on Saturday shot dead a Palestinian man who stabbed an officer in the West Bank hours after a knife-wielding teenager was killed at an east Jerusalem checkpoint.

The two incidents are the latest in a spate of apparent lone wolf attacks by Palestinians targeting Israeli civilians and security personnel since last October.

In Hebron in the south of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, a border police officer shot dead a Palestinian man who was stabbing a colleague at a checkpoint near the Tomb of Patriarchs, or Ibrahimi Mosque as it is known to Muslims, police said.

Spokeswoman Luba Samri said the policeman was in moderate condition with stab wounds to the head and chest.

The 20-year-old suspected assailant, named by Palestinian media as Assad al-Salayma, died of his injuries en route to hospital in Jerusalem.

An AFP correspondent said Israeli soldiers prevented Palestinians from gaining access to the area after the attack.

Just before midnight on Friday, Israeli police shot dead a 17-year-old Palestinian who tried to stab their colleagues at a checkpoint in annexed Arab east Jerusalem, Samri said.

The youth from the Al-Tur neighbourhood, identified by Palestinian activists as Ali al-Ghannam, managed to get past one checkpoint but was brought down at a second near Al-Zaim after charging it armed with a cleaver.

There were no police casualties.

Police distributed a photograph of a knife and cleaver they said the suspect had been carrying.

Jerusalem police commander Moshe Edri said the “determined actions” of security forces at the two checkpoints “saved lives”.

Al-Zaim checkpoint, where the suspect was shot dead shortly before midnight, lies on the main highway east from Jerusalem.

EAST JERUSALEM CLASHES

Clashes broke out in Ghannam’s home neighbourhood on Saturday as young Palestinians in Al-Tur protested against his killing.

Dozens of protesters threw stones and rolled burning tyres at Israeli security forces, who responded with tear gas and rubber bullets, an AFP correspondent reported.

More than 25 Palestinians were taken for medical treatment, the correspondent said.

Samri said one officer had suffered minor injuries from a stone to the face and police had used “riot dispersal means” to quell the protest.

She told AFP no arrests were made.

Palestinians in east Jerusalem declared a general strike.

A Palestinian information centre said that police were refusing to release Ghannam’s body for burial unless the family agreed to restrictions on the number of mourners.

The boy’s father rejected the Israeli terms, the Silwan information centre said on its Facebook page.

Israel routinely places restrictions on the funerals of Palestinians killed in suspected political violence in a bid to prevent them becoming the focus of protests.

There was no immediate claim of involvement by any Palestinian militant group in Ghannam’s actions and he had no known affiliations.

Tensions have been running high in and around Jerusalem since the killings of Israeli and Palestinian captives in tit-for-tat kidnappings by Palestinian militants and Jewish extremists last summer.

Earlier this month, an Israeli man was killed and a woman seriously hurt when a Palestinian driver deliberately rammed his car into a bus stop.

In March, five Israelis were injured when a Palestinian drove into a group of pedestrians before getting out of his car to try to stab people.

In November, an Israeli border policeman was killed and several people wounded when a Palestinian drove his vehicle into passengers waiting at a tram stop.

A three-month-old Israeli-American was among two people killed in a similar attack last October.