JERUSALEM: Three alleged assailants were killed while carrying out attacks on Israelis yesterday, security forces said, shattering weeks of relative calm in Israel and the Palestinian territories. The attacks were a reminder of persistent tensions that continue to alarm the international community and came a day after UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned the two-state solution was “further than ever” from becoming reality.
In the first incident, a man tried to stab police officers in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem and was killed on the spot. “The terrorist was shot dead by a police officer after he had tried to stab her,” a police statement said. Police said the attacker, Saeed Amro, was 28 and held a Jordanian passport, having crossed the border between the two countries on Thursday afternoon. Many Palestinians hold Jordanian passports, and Israeli police said they were checking if Amro also had Palestinian papers. The incident occurred at the Damascus Gate entrance to east Jerusalem’s Old City, the main entrance for Palestinians.
Shortly afterwards, two Palestinians rammed a car into a bus stop used by Israelis in the occupied West Bank, causing injuries before troops killed one of the assailants, the army said. “Two assailants rammed a vehicle into a civilian bus stop at the Elias junction near the community of Kiryat Arba,” an Israeli military statement said. “Forces at the scene fired at the vehicle resulting in the death of one of the assailants while the other was wounded.”
Three young civilians were lightly injured, Israeli medics said. The Palestinian health ministry identified the dead suspect as Firas Khadour. Local sources named the wounded attacker, a woman, as Raghad Khadour. She was taken to hospital in serious condition after being shot in the stomach. Kiryat Arba is an Israeli settlement in the southern West Bank close to the flashpoint Palestinian city of Hebron. In the third attack, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier in Hebron and was killed, the army said.
Peres’ Dream of Peace
“An assailant arrived at a junction near Hebron armed with a knife and stabbed a soldier,” a statement said, adding that he had been shot dead. Following the attack the main roads into and out of Hebron were closed off. A fourth man was killed overnight Thursday, also in Hebron, after allegedly trying to evade arrest by the Israeli military. Yesterday’s incidents came shortly after midday Muslim prayers on the first Friday after the weeklong Eid al-Adha holiday, and shattered a relative lull in violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Previously there had not been an attack in three weeks. Since October, 227 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, one Eritrean and a Sudanese have been killed in ongoing violence, according to an AFP count. Israeli forces say most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks. Others were shot dead during protests and clashes.
Earlier this week Shimon Peres, the veteran Israeli leader who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 along with Yitzhak Rabin and Yasser Arafat for his role in negotiating the Oslo peace accords, suffered a major stroke. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on Thursday hailed Peres but said his dream of Palestinian and Israeli states living side by side in peace was “further than ever” from becoming reality. Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967.
International powers have criticized its continued settlement expansion in the West Bank and east Jerusalem, with more than 500,000 Israelis now living in communities the international community considers illegal, as well as incitement to violence by Palestinian leaders. “Despite warnings by the international community and the region, leaders on both sides have failed to take the difficult steps needed for peace,” Ban said.
“Let me be absolutely clear: settlements are illegal under international law. The occupation, stifling and oppressive, must end,” he added. Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has ordered ministry employees and military officials to boycott UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov over his criticism of Israel’s settlement policies, Israeli media reported this week. – AFP