Palestinian teenager shot dead after stabbing attack in occupied West Bank

The shooting follows a night in which Israeli forces killed five Palestinians across the West Bank and East Jerusalem

Israeli security forces inspect the scene of a stabbing attack at a checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank. AP
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Israeli security forces shot dead a Palestinian teenager after a stabbing attack in the occupied West Bank amid rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians during Ramadan.

Two members of security forces guarding a checkpoint outside Bethlehem were moderately injured in the attack, Israel’s ambulance service said.

Soldiers and an armed civilian guard shot the 15-year-old attacker, “neutralising” him, police said.

Witnesses told Palestinian news agency Wafa that Israeli forces left the child to bleed to death and “barred” first aid from being given to him.

The attack adds to fears that, only a few days into the holy month, anger is at boiling over Israel’s continuing military campaign in Gaza and heavy restrictions on Palestinians in the West Bank.

Israel is also coming under fire for restricting access to the Al Aqsa compound during Ramadan, which authorities say is necessary for security reasons.

The stabbing on Wednesday morning took place at the Tunnels Barrier checkpoint, close to Bethlehem and near Israeli settlements.

The attack came hours after five Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army across the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Two Palestinians were killed while standing outside the emergency department of a hospital in the occupied West Bank city of Jenin.

Two people, one of whom was 16, were also shot and killed in the West Bank town of Al Jib, north of Jerusalem.

A 13-year-old boy was shot dead by border police in East Jerusalem's Shuafat refugee camp on Tuesday night.

Israeli police said the child, Rami Hamdan Al Halhouli, aimed a firework at security forces, although video footage of the moment paints an unclear picture as to whether the boy aimed for troops or into the air.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir praised the border police officer, who is being questioned over the killing, a decision the minister described as “shameful and disgraceful”.

Mr Ben Gvir added that the “terrorist” sought to “harm our soldiers” by shooting the firework.

In response to the minister's accusations, Israel's attorney general Gali Baharav Miara published a letter warning him: “Any interference by you in the investigations, directly or indirectly, breaks the law, significantly damages the rule of law and constitutes a politicisation of the law enforcement system.”

“Criminal investigations … are carried out independently,” the letter added.

Yitzhak Wasserlauf, a junior minister from Mr Ben Gvir's party, said the decision to question the officer will mean police are “scared to do what is necessary to neutralise terrorists”.

Israeli authorities on Tuesday published rules on who can visit Al Aqsa for Friday prayers, although they stressed that these would be subject to change based on security assessments.

Authorities are allowing a similar number of Muslims to enter the Al Aqsa Mosque this Ramadan as in previous years, an official Israeli government spokeswoman claimed on Tuesday.

“Right now, as for the first week of the holy month, we can say there’s been no change in the number of people allowed to enter compared to what we saw in previous years,” said Tal Heinrich, a spokeswoman at the Prime Minister’s Office.

“In other words, despite the war, [it’s] business as usual,” she added.

“Every week there will be assessments of public safety considerations, but also security considerations … to assess the number of people to be allowed in.”

The guidelines have angered far-right figures such as Mr Ben Gvir, who called for much harsher restrictions on the number of Palestinians who can visit the site, including Israeli Arabs.

Mr Ben Gvir has long argued for Israel to take full control of the Al Aqsa compound, which is also a holy site in Judaism.

Updated: March 13, 2024, 1:23 PM