Palestinian attacks officer with knife, police shoot him dead

Jerusalem, October 12

A Palestinian man attacked an Israeli officer with a knife today at the entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City and was shot dead by police, Israeli police said. It was the latest attack in a recent wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence.

Paramilitary border police officers noticed the Palestinian acting suspiciously and ordered him to take his hand out of his pocket, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. The man then attacked an officer with a knife, but he was wearing a protective vest and was not injured, she said.

The attack took place near the Lions Gate of Jerusalem’s walled Old City on the predominantly Arab eastern side of the city.

The recent wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence has been marked primarily by Palestinian stabbings carried out by young Palestinians with no affiliation to militant groups. The seemingly random nature of the attacks has complicated efforts to predict or prevent them.

The unrest has spread to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, where hundreds of Palestinians have been wounded in clashes with Israeli troops.

In recent weeks, at least 25 Palestinians, including nine attackers, have been killed by Israeli forces, while five Israelis have been killed in attacks.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed the violence on incitement by groups including the Islamic Movement, which runs religious and educational services for Muslims in Israel. Netanyahu is seeking sanctions on the group, which has led a campaign accusing Israel of plotting to take over a sacred Old City compound revered by both Jews and Muslims, a claim Israel denies.

Israeli police said they have arrested a local leader of the Islamic Movement in the Bedouin Arab town of Rahat in southern Israel who was suspected of organising a group of protesters who vandalised security cameras and other property in the town on Friday, as demonstrations have been taking place in predominantly Arab cities throughout Israel.

The European Union’s top diplomat, foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, told Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in phone calls on Sunday evening to avoid action that could increase tensions, and called on the sides to agree on “substantial steps which would improve the situation on the ground” and lead to renewed peace talks, according to an EU statement.

Marwan Barghouti, a popular figure among Palestinians who was convicted of planning deadly attacks on Israelis and is jailed in Israel, published an op-ed in The Guardian newspaper on Sunday saying the cause of recent violence was “denial of Palestinian freedom.”