Israeli killed by Palestinian in Jerusalem Old City stabbing

Monday, March 19, 2018

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JERUSALEM (AFP) — A Palestinian stabbed an Israeli security guard to death in Jerusalem's Old City on Sunday before being shot dead by a police officer, Israeli officials said.

The stabbing came with concerns over the potential for an upsurge in unrest in the coming weeks, as the United States prepares to move its embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

The security guard was taken to hospital in serious condition suffering a stab wound to his torso, medics said.

The hospital later announced he had died from his wounds. Israeli media reported that he was in his 30s, with some reports saying he was off duty at the time.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld confirmed the assailant had been shot dead.

Israel's Shin Bet domestic security service identified the assailant as Abdul Rahmani Faddal, 28, and a father of two from Aqraba near Nablus in the north of the occupied West Bank.

The attack comes after a car ramming Friday by a Palestinian near Jenin in the northern West Bank that the army said killed two Israeli soldiers and wounded two others.

Tensions were high after Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas called for a day of rage on Friday to mark 100 days since US President Donald Trump's controversial recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Palestinians also see the city as their capital and Trump's recognition broke with decades of US policy that Jerusalem's status would be negotiated between the parties.

Palestinian leaders have boycotted Trump's Administration over the declaration, though the White House says it still plans to push ahead with its efforts to restart peace talks.

At least 32 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed since Trump's announcement, which set off major protests.

The United States is planning to open its new embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel's founding.

Palestinians commemorate May 15 as the Nakba, or “catastrophe”, marking when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians either fled or were expelled in the 1948 war surrounding Israel's creation.

There have also been tensions along the border between Gaza and Israel in recent days.

Israel's military said Sunday it had carried out an air raid overnight against an underground Hamas facility in the Gaza Strip and destroyed a separate tunnel under construction that could be used for attacks.

No casualties were reported in either operation, which came after an explosive device was detonated near the Gaza border with Israel, the latest in a string of such incidents.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, called Israel's actions an attempt “to scare the people” and head off planned protests along the border, beginning later this month.

Israel “bears all the consequences of the escalation”, Hamas spokesman Fawzy Barhoum said.

Beginning on March 30, Gazans are planning to erect hundreds of tents near the Israeli border in a six-week show of support for Palestinian refugees.

Two explosive devices were detonated Thursday along the border, which had already provoked Israeli attacks on Hamas positions.

Also on February 17, four Israeli soldiers were wounded by an improvised explosive device on the border, sparking intense military retaliation.

It was not clear who was behind the blasts, but Israel held Hamas responsible as the de facto power in the Palestinian enclave.

Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008. The strip has been under an Israeli blockade for around a decade.

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