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Palestinian killed after alleged stab attempt at Gush Etzion

March 18, 2016 3:42 P.M. (Updated: March 19, 2016 10:36 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian man was shot dead after allegedly attempting to carry out a stabbing attack at the Gush Etzion junction, shortly after two Palestinians were detained on suspicions of planning an attack in the illegal Shaare Benjamin settlement.

An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma'an that an "assailant armed with a knife exited his vehicle and charged at soldiers" at the Gush Etzion junction southwest of Bethlehem, with soldiers opening fire, killing the man and "foiling" the alleged attack.

Witnesses told Ma'an that Israeli forces opened fire on and killed a Palestinian man in his 20s while he was driving near the junction.

One witness said the Palestinian had been driving alongside an Israeli settler who stopped his car at the junction in order to speak to soldiers there and pointed to the Palestinian's car.

The witness said the Palestinian also stopped his car and had just stepped out -- "not holding anything in his hands" -- when Israeli forces opened fire, killing him on the spot.

No Israeli injuries were reported.

Hisham Abu Shaqra, a reporter for the Turkish Anadolu News Agency, was detained by Israeli forces after taking footage of the incident.

The Palestinian was identified as Mahmud Ahmad Abu Fanunah, 21, from the Hebron district.

Shortly afterward, Israeli police said they detained two Palestinian minors near the entrance of the industrial zone of the illegal settlement of Shaare Binyamin northeast of Jerusalem for allegedly carrying knives.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said Israeli troops spotted two youths exiting a car with Palestinian plates in the area.

The youths raised the suspicions of the forces, who searched them and found two knives in their possession, al-Samri said, adding that "initial investigations" indicated they had been planning to carry out a stabbing attack.

The Palestinian youths were taken into custody, and Israeli forces were searching for the individual who drove them to Shaare Binyamin, al-Samri said.

The locations where both Friday's incidents took place have been the site of a number of deaths since a surge of violence in the occupied Palestinian territory last October.

More than 10 Palestinians and three Israelis have been killed at the Gush Etzion junction -- the entrance point to the illegal Gush Etzion settlement bloc -- and last month two 14-year-old Palestinians were shot dead after carrying out an attack in a Rami Levi supermarket located in Shaare Benyamin industrial zone that killed one Israeli.

At least 200 Palestinians and just under 30 Israelis have been killed since October, but attempts to quell the violence by the international community have subsequently failed.

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 extra-judicial 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."
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