Israel: Palestinians carry out five separate stabbing attacks
Alleged assailants in 4 of the 5 incidents killed.
43 Palestinians killed since October 1, official says; 7 Israelis have died in the same time period
Israeli authorities reported five knife attacks Saturday, all of them at the hands of Palestinians, as the spate of violence afflicting the two sides continued into the weekend.
According to Israeli Defense Forces, three of the attacks occurred in Hebron, one in Jerusalem and one in Qalandia. None of them were fatal, at least for the person stabbed; IDF said the Palestinian assailants in four of the five incidents were shot and killed.
But the official Palestinian version of events doesn’t always match the account given by Israeli authorities.
Saturday’s incidents, as reported by both sides:
Three of Saturday’s stabbings occurred in the West Bank city of Hebron.
In the first, a Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli pedestrian, but according to the IDF, the armed civilian shot the assailant dead.
WAFA, the official Palestinian news agency, reported the incident as a shooting death of a Palestinian teenager. It did not mention a knife.
According to WAFA, 18-year-old Fadhil Qawasmi was killed by a Jewish settler as he walked down the street. The settler pursued and harassed Qawasmi before shooting him dead as the teen tried to walk away, the news agency said.
Qawasmi was shot four times and “left to die by Israeli soldiers who prevented paramedics from administering medical assistance to him,” according to WAFA.
In a second incident in Hebron, a Palestinian woman stabbed an Israeli border policewoman at the Ashmoret Yitzhak border police base, according to Israeli police. The border policewoman shot and killed the suspect. The officer was lightly wounded.
WAFA reported on this incident too, including allegations the woman carried out a stabbing, but the Palestinian news agency also included this caveat: “To be noted, Israeli police and army forces often resort to fatally shooting Palestinians – who are involved in alleged attacks against Israelis – while making no effort to apprehend them.”
In a third Hebron attack, a Palestinian assailant stabbed an Israeli soldier, leaving him with “moderate penetration wounds (in) his upper torso,” according to Magen David Adom, Israel’s national EMS agency. Both Magen David Adom and the IDF said that the attacker, identified by the Israel Security Agency as 16-year-old Tareq Ziad Naaman Natshe, was shot and taken along with the soldier to a Jerusalem hospital.
CNN has seen no reports of this incident from Palestinian sources.
In the incident in Jerusalem, Israeli border police officers approached a Palestinian man in the city’s Armon Hanatsiv neighborhood to conduct a check when the man pulled a knife and tried to stab them, according to Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri.
Samri said “the policemen fired and neutralized” the suspect. Magen David Adom emergency services said that the Palestinian man died of his injuries.
WAFA, however, casts the incident in a different light.
It reports 16-year-old Mutez Awaysat was shot and killed at short range by Israeli soldiers, who quickly cordoned off the area to block journalists from the scene in “the illegal Israeli settlement.”
The fifth stabbing on Saturday occurred at a border checkpoint in Qalandia. According to IDF, an assailant attempted to stab a policeman but the knife did not penetrate the officer’s flak jacket, prompting the officer to fire upon and wound his assailant. When an Israeli solider then inspected the suspect, he pulled out a second knife out and tried to stab him, but was shot and killed before he could inflict any damage, IDF said.
Seven Israelis have been killed since October 1 in attacks by Palestinians with knives, guns and cars, according to Israeli officials.
Protesters have rioted in Palestinian territories, many throwing rocks, and at times Israeli security forces have used live ammunition.
Five Palestinians were killed Friday in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.
Forty-four Palestinians have been killed this month in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, Palestinian Authority Health Ministry spokesman Osama al-Najjar told CNN. This figure includes those killed after carrying out attacks.
This is in addition to the more than 1,770 injured by live fire or rubber bullets in the same time period, according to Najjar.
Both sides have traded blame about who is responsible for the ongoing violence. Both sides have turned up gruesome video recordings to support their claims.
Attacks not believed to be organized
The recent knife attacks have confounded Israeli authorities. They have spent millions to prevent suicide bombings with high concrete barriers and to stop rockets from Gaza with the Iron Dome anti-missile system.
But a knife is easy to obtain and carry into a crowd. Israeli authorities so far don’t believe the attacks are the result of any campaign of violence organized by militant groups.
Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, has praised the attacks but has not claimed responsibility for them.
They are often carried out by young Palestinians who may be acting out alone, or recruited or at least encouraged via social media, Israeli authorities have said.
Civilians arming themselves
In this atmosphere of fear, many Israelis are changing the routes of their commutes, and many who have handgun permits are carrying weapons. Others are applying for permits.
The Israeli government has even called for them to do so.
In recent days, Israeli security forces have swiftly shot dead two Palestinian teenagers who attacked with knives. Abbas, the Palestinian President, accused Israel of committing what he called “extrajudicial executions.”
A coalition of human rights organizations – including Amnesty International and the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – has said police and soldiers are “too quick to shoot to kill” and criticized calls for civilians to carry weapons.
Clashes at holy site
Palestinian resentments are hardly new, but Israelis and Palestinians have had better relations at times.
But they have been buried by the second intifada, in which organized deadly attacks targeted Israelis from 2000 to 2005, and by three wars in Gaza that killed thousands of Palestinians.
Recent developments have made things worse.
Hardline Jewish activists have begun demanding greater access to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, in Jerusalem’s Old City, and right-wing politicians have called for the rights of Jews to pray there. Known as Haram al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, it’s also one of the holiest sites in Islam.
The Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, has accused Israeli security forces of escorting Jewish hardliners onto the Temple Mount and into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Clashes at the site have become common.
CNN’s Ben Wedeman, Ingrid Formanek, Michael Schwartz, Amir Tal, Abeer Salman, Yousuf Basil Samira Said, and Deborah Bloom contributed to this report.