Bethlehem, 14 Jumadil Akhir 1437/24 March 2016 (MINA) – Two Palestinians were killed by Israeli forces Thursday morning after allegedly stabbing and injuring an Israeli soldier in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s Old City, an Israeli army spokesperson said.
The two assailants reportedly stabbed a soldier near a military checkpoint and “forces responded and shot the attackers,” the spokesperson said.
Israeli emergency medical services said the soldier, who was about 20 years old, was evacuated for treatment and in moderate condition.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the two Palestinian youths as Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, 21, and Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21, Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA) quoted Ma’an as reporting.
A witness told Ma’an: “I heard gunshots, went outside my house to check what it was, and saw several Israeli soldiers yelling and two youths on the ground. A soldier approached one of the youths that was moving while yelling and opened fire at him from zero range.”
“Half-an-hour later Israeli soldiers covered the two youths with black covers and took them to an unknown destination. I saw soldiers surrounding the (wounded) soldier after taking off the upper part of his clothing,” the witness added.
Graphic video footage from Israeli media show the two Palestinians lying on the ground after they were shot dead, and a knife nearby.
The incident near the Hebron military checkpoint comes as Palestinians face severe movement restrictions, as Israeli authorities shut down all movement through checkpoints in and out of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip for the Jewish holiday of Purim.
Israeli settlers as well as other right-wing Israelis held celebrations in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron’s Old City late Tuesday night ahead of the holiday. Locals told Ma’an that during the celebrations, the settlers “provocatively” used the mosque’s loudspeakers “to sing racist songs that call for the expulsion of ‘Arabs’ from Hebron.”
The Old City has been the site of a number small-scale attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals since violence increased in the occupied Palestinian territory and Israel in October.
According to Ma’an reports, at least 203 Palestinians have been killed, the majority shot dead while carrying out small-scale attacks. Almost 30 Israelis have been killed during the same time period.
US and Israeli officials have criticized Palestinian leadership for failing to condemn a number of attacks carried out by Palestinian individuals — the majority of which have been carried out on military targets — while critics say Israel has practiced a policy of extrajudicial executions of Palestinians.
Earlier this year, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon condemned the wave of attacks, but said that Israeli security measures were failing to “address the profound sense of alienation and despair driving some Palestinians — especially young people.”
He added: “As oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to occupation, which often serves as a potent incubator of hate and extremism.” (T/R07/R01)
Mi’raj Islamic News Agency (MINA)