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Palestinian stabs 2 officers, shot

19 September 2016, 13:11

Jerusalem - A Palestinian stabbed two Israeli police officers outside Jerusalem's Old City Monday before being shot, authorities said, as a new surge in violence raised concerns ahead of upcoming Jewish holidays.

It was the sixth such incident since Friday, coming after Palestinians wrapped up Eid al-Adha celebrations and as Israel tightened security ahead of Jewish high holidays in October.

The upsurge has shattered several weeks of relative calm.

After Monday's incident, a 38-year-old policewoman was in serious condition from a stab wound to her neck, the Shaare Tzedek hospital said.

A policeman in his mid-40s was being treated for moderate stab wounds, and the Palestinian attacker was in serious condition after being shot in the head and limbs, the Hadassah hospital said.

Police identified the perpetrator as a Palestinian in his 20s from east Jerusalem and said he had followed the officers before attacking them.

He was shot by the policeman he stabbed, a statement said.

The attack happened by the Herod's Gate entrance to the Old City in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, a short distance from the Damascus Gate where a Jordanian was shot dead on Friday after trying to stab a police officer.

Amman has disputed the Israeli account of Friday's incident, calling the shooting of 28-year-old Saeed Amro "premeditated" and a "barbaric act".

However, Israeli police released video footage of the incident in which Amro is seen approaching two officers holding a knife in each hand with his arms raised before being shot.

A police spokeswoman said he was yelling "Allahu Akbar" -- God is greatest.

Amro's body was handed over to Jordan on Sunday, police said.

- Tension at holy site -

Monday's was the sixth attack on Israeli security forces or civilians since Friday, according to Israeli authorities.

The army called the recent escalation "further testament to the ongoing influence of incitement on the Palestinian street and social media networks".

An Israeli security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, also noted the possibility of a "copycat effect" of one attack influencing another.

The official said tensions may be increasing because of the "online incitement" of Palestinians regarding Jewish visits to the Old City and Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

The compound is the third holiest site for Muslims and the most sacred for Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

The Jewish holidays see an increase in Jewish visitors to the site in east Jerusalem.

On Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extended his nearly year-long order barring members of parliament and ministers from visiting the volatile site.

He "instructed that a response team be established to refute disinformation about Israeli policy on the Temple Mount", his office said.

Clashes erupted at the Al-Aqsa compound last year during the Jewish high holidays amid Muslim fears that Israel was planning to change rules governing the site, claims Netanyahu vehemently denied.

Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there to avoid stoking tensions.

The site is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians fearing that Israel may one day seek to assert further control over it.

Far-right members of Netanyahu's coalition have called for Jewish prayer rights at the compound, while hardline groups favour construction of a third Jewish temple there.

Since October, 227 Palestinians, 34 Israelis, two Americans, one Jordanian, 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.

Many analysts say Palestinian frustration with the Israeli occupation and settlement-building in the West Bank, the complete lack of progress in peace efforts and their own fractured leadership have helped feed the unrest.



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