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2 Palestinians, 2 Israelis killed in Jerusalem Old City attack

Dec. 23, 2015 1:41 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 25, 2015 5:56 P.M.)
Israeli medical team gather at the site of a stabbing attack carried out by an 18-year-old Palestinian on an Israeli border policeman on June 21, 2015, at the Damascus Gate outside the Old City of Jerusalem. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli, File)

JERUSALEM (Ma'an) -- Two Palestinians from Qalandiya were shot and killed after carrying out a stabbing attack at the Jaffa Gate of East Jerusalem’s Old City, Israeli police said.

The attack left one Israeli killed and another injured, while Israeli media reported that a third Israeli was accidentally shot at the scene and later succumbed to their wounds.

Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri said that the Israeli that was shot at the scene was likely hit by live fire when border guards opened fire on the attackers.

Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld told Ma'an that Israeli forces present in the area at the time opened fire on the Palestinians during the attack.

Following the attack, one Israeli reportedly died from stab wounds, while another is in moderate condition.

The injured were taken to nearby hospitals Shaare Zedek and Hadassah, the spokesperson added.

Israeli border guards deployed in the area at the time of the attack said they “noticed people running in panic and saw two ‘terrorists’ carrying knives and stabbing a man,” al-Samri said.

One Palestinian was killed on scene, and the Ein Kerem branch of Hadassah hospital confirmed that the second died shortly after arriving to the hospital.

The Palestinians were identified as Issa Assaf and Anan Abu Habsa from Qalandiya in the occupied West Bank. The area has recently been site to heightened tensions, with two Palestinians killed in the Qalandiya refugee camp last week after attempting to run over Israeli soldiers present in the camp during a predawn arrest raid.

The Jaffa Gate area --the site of Wednesday's attack and the most commonly-used entrance into the Old City by Jewish Israelis and tourists -- was closed by Israeli Border Police following the attack, witnesses in the area said.

The Damascus Gate located nearby was also closed.

The incident marks the fourth in Jerusalem this month that resulted in the death of a Palestinian who attacked and injured Israelis.

Nearly 130 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli military forces and settlers since violence increased at the beginning of October. Nineteen Israelis were killed in attacks by Palestinian individuals during the same time period.

While attacks initially escalated in occupied East Jerusalem in October, the majority of attacks this month took place in the occupied West Bank.

Twenty-four Palestinians have been killed in December, 18 of whom were shot dead during attacks on Israeli military and civilians, the rest killed during clashes with military forces.

The circumstances of several deaths have been under investigation by rights groups who say that Israeli forces have implemented a "shoot-to-kill" policy, resulting in the death of Palestinians who didn't pose an imminent threat at the time of their death.

The vest of an Israeli soldier who gave first aid to an Israeli wounded at the Jaffa Gate. (Photo Credit: Israeli Police)

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