More die as violence and finger-pointing plague Israelis and Palestinians

Israeli authorities reported three Palestinians pulling knives then being shot dead, as the spate of violence afflicting Israelis and Palestinians continued Saturday.

But the Palestinian version of the day’s violence was different. The official Palestinian news agency WAFA mentioned no knives and said Israelis simply shot two Palestinians dead.

Neither side related its accounts to those reported by the other side. It was unclear if these were the same incidents.

Saturday’s incidents as reported by both sides:


Israeli border police approached a Palestinian man in the Armon Hanatsiv neighborhood of Jerusalem to conduct a check Saturday, and the man pulled a knife and tried to stab the officers, according to a statement from Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri.

Samri said “the policemen fired and neutralized” the suspect. Israel’s Magen David Adom emergency services confirmed in a statement that the Palestinian man had died of his injuries.

The Palestinian official news agency had a different report.

Mutez Awaysat, 16, was killed by Israeli soldiers in Jerusalem, WAFA reported, citing eyewitnesses. The Palestinian teen was shot by Israeli soldiers at short range.


In Hebron on the West Bank, a Palestinian tried to stab an Israeli pedestrian, according to the Israel Defense Forces. But the Israeli civilian was armed, and shot the assailant dead.

Palestinian official news agency WAFA reported the shooting death of a Palestinian there but mentioned no knife. It said that Fadhil Qawasmi, 18, was killed by a Jewish settler while walking down the street. The settler had intercepted Qawasmi, cursed at him, then shot him while Qawasmi tried to walk back in the direction he came from.

In a second incident in Hebron, a Palestinian woman stabbed an Israeli border policewoman at the Ashmoret Yitzhak Border Police base, according to Israeli police. The border policewoman shot and killed the suspect. The officer was lightly wounded.

CNN has seen no reports of a third incident from Palestinian sources.

Deadly clashes

Seven Israelis have been killed since October 1 in attacks by Palestinians with knives, guns and cars, according to Israeli officials.

Distinct from that, protesters have also rioted in Palestinian territories, many throwing rocks, and at times Israeli security forces have used live ammunition.

Five Palestinians were killed Friday in clashes with Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

They and three deaths Saturday are among 43 Palestinians killed this month in Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank, health ministry spokesman Osama al-Najjar told CNN. This figure includes those killed after carrying out attacks.

This is in addition to the more than 1,770 injured by live fire or rubber bullets in the same time period, according to al-Najjar.

Both sides have traded blame about who is responsible for the ongoing violence. Both sides have turned up gruesome video recordings to support their claims.

Joseph’s tomb set alight

Overnight Thursday, a group of Palestinians set fire to a compound housing Joseph’s Tomb, a religious site in the West Bank venerated by Jews, sparking condemnations between Palestinian and Israeli authorities.

The tomb appeared unharmed.

Jews consider the site in Nablus the final resting place of Joseph, a high Israelite patriarch and son of Jacob who, according to biblical accounts, was sold into slavery as a boy but then rose to become a powerful figure in ancient Egypt, second only to the pharaoh.

Jewish devotees at times go to the tomb under Israel Defense Forces escort at night to pray. Christians also consider Joseph’s Tomb a holy site. It’s been targeted before — including in 2011 when vandals painted swastikas on its walls.

A Palestinian official, who asked not to be named, said that the fire was set while other people tried to keep Israeli forces out, whom they feared would tear down Palestinian homes

Attacks not believed to be organized

The recent knife attacks have confounded Israeli authorities. They have spent millions to prevent suicide bombings with high concrete barriers and to stop rockets from Gaza with the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

But a knife is easy to obtain and carry into a crowd. Israeli authorities so far don’t believe the attacks are the result of any campaign of violence organized by militant groups.

Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, has praised the attacks but not claimed responsibility for them.

It’s often young Palestinians who may be acting out alone or recruited or at least encouraged via social media, Israeli authorities have said.

Civilians arming themselves

In this atmosphere of fear, many Israelis are changing the routes of their commutes, and many who have handgun permits are carrying weapons. Others are applying for permits.

The Israeli government has even called for them to do so.

In recent days, Israeli security forces have swiftly shot dead two Palestinian teenagers who attacked with knives. Abbas, the Palestinian President, accused Israel of committing what he called “extrajudicial executions.”

A coalition of human rights organizations — including Amnesty International and the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories — has said police and soldiers are “too quick to shoot to kill” and criticized calls for civilians to carry weapons.

Clashes at holy site

Palestinian resentments are hardly new, but Israelis and Palestinians have had better relations at times.

Those have since been buried by the second intifada, in which organized deadly attacks targeted Israelis from 2000 to 2005, and three wars in Gaza that killed thousands of Palestinians.

Hard-line Jewish activists have begun demanding greater access to the Temple Mount, the holiest site in Judaism, in Jerusalem’s Old City, and right-wing politicians have called for the rights of Jews to pray there. Known as Haram Al-Sharif or the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, it’s also one of the holiest sites in Islam.

The Palestinian representative to the United Nations, Riyad Mansour, has accused Israeli security forces of escorting Jewish hardliners onto the Temple Mount and into the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Clashes at the site have become common.