Fatal attack in Jerusalem: ISIS, Hamas both claim responsibility

Israeli border guards searching a Palestinian man outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday following an attack. Three Palestinians attacked police officers in the area before being shot dead by security forces. Two of them had opened f
Israeli border guards searching a Palestinian man outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on Friday following an attack. Three Palestinians attacked police officers in the area before being shot dead by security forces. Two of them had opened fire on a group of officers, and the third stabbed an Israeli policewoman who died in hospital later.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

JERUSALEM • The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group yesterday claimed responsibility for an attack in Jerusalem for the first time, saying it was involved in the fatal stabbing of an Israeli policewoman outside the walled Old City.

But the claim, which came with the Islamists facing defeat in their Iraq and Syria bastions, was swiftly dismissed by Palestinian militant groups. Israeli police also said that no connection has been found between the three Palestinians who carried out the attack in Jerusalem and any organisation.

The trio attacked struck at Damascus Gate in annexed East Jerusalem late on Friday before being shot dead by security forces, said Israeli police. According to them, two of the assailants opened fire on a group of officers who returned fire, and the third stabbed the border policewoman a short distance away before being shot.

The officer, 23-year-old staff sergeant major Hadas Malka, was taken to hospital in critical condition and later died of her wounds.

In an online statement, ISIS said its fighters had targeted a "gathering of Jews", warning that "this attack will not be the last".

But Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that runs the Gaza Strip, dismissed the claim, saying the attackers had come from among its own ranks and the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. The assault took place as tens of thousands of Palestinians held night prayers at the nearby Al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third-holiest site, on the third Friday of the holy fasting month of Ramadan.

Israel's Shin Bet internal security agency identified the three assailants as Braa Salah, born in 1998; Adel Ankush, born 1999; and Asama Atta, born 1998; all from the village of Deir Abu Mashal near the West Bank city of Ramallah. The names differ from those reported by ISIS.

Medics said four people besides the officer were wounded in the incident. Two of them were Palestinians from East Jerusalem.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on June 18, 2017, with the headline 'Fatal attack in Jerusalem: ISIS, Hamas both claim responsibility'. Print Edition | Subscribe