Violence returns to Jerusalem after 2-week lull

(Associated Press) - November 10, 2015 - 2:31pm

JERUSALEM — Two young Palestinian boys, aged 11 and 14, stabbed and wounded an Israeli guard on a train who responded by firing and wounding one of them yesterday. Israeli security forces killed two other Palestinians who carried out knife attacks, police said as violence returned to Jerusalem after a two-week lull.

The train attack was reminiscent of a similar case from October when two young Palestinian cousins stabbed two Israelis in east Jerusalem. That case became fodder for the ongoing war of words between the Palestinian and Israeli governments and the trial of one of the attackers began on yesterday.

In the first attack yesterday, police said two young Palestinian relatives stabbed a security guard on a train. The guard was moderately wounded and shot the younger assailant. Passengers subdued the other, police said, and the wounded boy was being treated at a hospital.

Jerusalem had been relatively calm over the last two weeks as the focus of a two-month wave of Palestinian attacks, mainly stabbings, shifted to the West Bank, where Israeli troops have also regularly clashed with Palestinian protesters.

Most of the Palestinian attackers have been in their late teens or early 20s. On yesterday, 13-year-old Ahmed Manasra went on trial before a Jerusalem court over a stabbing last month that fueled a high-profile media war.

Since mid-September, 12 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings. Seventy-seven Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including 50 said by Israel to have been involved in attacks or attempted attacks. The other Palestinians died in clashes between stone-throwers and security forces.

The latest bloodshed was triggered by unrest at a major Jerusalem shrine revered by both Muslims and Jews, and quickly spread across Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza border. Israel accuses Palestinian political and religious leaders of inciting the violence. Palestinians say the unrest is the inevitable result of nearly 50 years of Israeli occupation and no hope for gaining independence.

An amateur video that surfaced on a Palestinian website showed plainclothes Israeli security forces wrestling a young boy, presumably one of the attackers, to the ground and taking off his clothes and shoes. The boy was stripped to his underwear as the security men shouted at him.

Later yesterday, Israeli forces killed a 37-year-old Palestinian man outside the Old City as he chased guards while wielding a knife, police said. Israeli police said forces foiled an additional attack in Abu Dis, an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said a Palestinian tried to stab forces at a checkpoint before he was shot dead. Police later released footage showing a Palestinian running toward the guards with what appears to be a knife and attempting to attack them with it.

Jerusalem had been relatively quiet for the past two weeks following an Israeli crackdown in response to the attacks. The army deployed hundreds of troops in the city and police erected checkpoints at the entrances to Palestinian neighborhoods. Israel has eased some restrictions in recent days, and it was unclear how the latest attacks would affect security measures in the capital.

Palestinians claim traditionally Arab east Jerusalem, captured by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 Mideast war, as the capital of their future state.

Manasra is charged with stabbing two Israelis in mid-October along with his 15-year-old cousin Hassan, according to the indictment. Police fatally shot Hassan and a passing car ran over Ahmed. The Israelis, aged 20 and 13, survived their wounds.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas caused an uproar in Israel when he erroneously claimed in a televised speech that Israelis had "summarily executed" Manasra, who at the time was recovering at an Israeli hospital.

Israel promptly accused Abbas — as it has done repeatedly in the past months — of fomenting violence with what it says are incendiary comments.

Palestinians were enraged by video that surfaced on social media showing Manasra lying in the street, his head bloodied, as bystanders curse him and shout "Die!" in Hebrew. The video made no mention of the preceding attack.

Israelis were shocked by a separate security camera video that appearing to show the two young cousins wielding knives and chasing a man, and later stabbing an Israeli boy as he got on his bicycle outside a shop after buying some candy.

Rights groups have alleged that Israeli troops have used excessive force against Palestinians, in some cases shooting and killing suspected attackers who the groups say could have been arrested.

On Monday, Palestinian media released footage showing Jerusalem police questioning Manasra.

In the video, police officers showed him the security camera footage of the attack. One of the officers shouts at him, "Is this you, this person?" as the teen cries and says he doesn't remember.

It was unclear how Palestinian media obtained the video or who filmed the Israeli investigation.

Attorney Lea Tsemel, who is representing Manasra, said she may contest the investigation based on the video. "You cannot terrify or threaten or tempt for the purpose of achieving a confession," she said.

Samri, the police spokeswoman, said the investigation was conducted "with professionalism and without bias."

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