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Palestinian shot dead after stabbing soldier at Qalandiya checkpoint

Oct. 1, 2016 11:42 A.M. (Updated: Oct. 2, 2016 8:33 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- A 28-year-old Palestinian was shot dead by Israeli forces Friday night after stabbing and wounding a 20-year-old Israeli soldier at the Qalandiya checkpoint north of Jerusalem in the central occupied West Bank.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba al-Samri said in a statement that the Palestinian suspect entered the cars-dedicated lane at the checkpoint on foot, where he attacked an Israeli soldier with a knife, before other soldiers opened fire on the man, killing him on the scene.

Al-Samri said the soldier was taken to the hospital in a moderate-to-serious condition. He was later reported to be in a stable condition.

She added that the 28-year-old Palestinian was from the nearby village of Kafr Aqab in the Jerusalem district of the occupied West Bank.

He was later identified on Palestinian media sites as Nasim Abu Meizar.

Following the incident, Israeli forces closed Qalandiya checkpoint, where clashes erupted, with protesting Palestinians reportedly throwing stones at Israeli forces who responded by firing stun grenades and tear gas canisters at the crowds.

The military checkpoint where the man was killed is a main access point for Palestinians to cross from the occupied West Bank to Jerusalem and has been the site of a number of alleged, actual, and attempted attacks since a wave of unrest swept across the Palestinian territory a year ago.

Throughout the unrest, rights groups have repeatedly denounced what they have termed Israeli forces' "shoot-to-kill" policy against Palestinians who did not constitute a threat at the time of their death or who could have been subdued in a non-lethal manner.

At least three other Palestinians have been shot dead at the checkpoint since last October, including a pregnant Palestinian woman and her 16-year-old brother after they allegedly attempted to carry out a stab attack on border police in April.

In July, a 63-year-old Palestinian man died of excessive tear gas inhalation at the checkpoint after Israeli forces heavily fired tear gas at crowds attempting to cross into Jerusalem to attend prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during Ramadan.

As the wave in violence reaches its one year anniversary, some 231 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis, many of whom were killed while carrying out individual attacks on Israeli military and settlers, while others died during clashes or unconfirmed circumstances.

Some 32 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians during the same period.

An uptick in violence two weeks ago after a period of relative calm saw seven Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, most recently 16-year-old Issa Salim Mahmoud Tarayra, shot dead by Israeli soldiers at a junction in the southern occupied West Bank district of Hebron after he allegedly attempted to commit a stab attack.

In a statement on Wednesday, human rights NGO Amnesty International said that “nearly a year on from a bloody spike in violence in Israel and the (occupied Palestinian territory), Israeli forces continue to display an appalling disregard for human life by using reckless and unlawful lethal force against Palestinians.”

The group had documented 20 incidents of “apparently unlawful killings of Palestinians by Israeli forces,” in which at least 15 were “deliberately shot dead, despite posing no imminent threat to life, in what appear to be extrajudicial executions,” saying that the trend was fostered by a “culture of impunity” for Israeli forces.

“As violence continues in Israel and the (occupied Palestinian territory), the families of those unlawfully killed in the past year are left without justice. Of the 20 incidents in the memo, an indictment has been filed against a soldier in only one case. In many cases where there appears to be evidence of an extrajudicial execution, there is not even an open criminal investigation,” the statement read.

Philip Luther, Research and Advocacy Director for the Middle East and North Africa at Amnesty International was quoted in the report as saying that the cases outlined “reveal a shocking disregard for human life and pose some serious questions to the Israeli authorities. Those responsible must be brought to justice to ensure this cycle of unlawful killings ends.”

“Relatives of Israelis killed by Palestinians can count on a state that aggressively pursues the attackers -- and often oversteps the bounds of legality in that pursuit. Palestinians, on the other hand, do not have anyone to protect their rights,” said Philip Luther.

“The only way to prevent further unlawful killings is to end the impunity that exists for those who have carried them out in the past. Israel has a duty to thoroughly, impartially and promptly investigate all killings by its security forces, and to keep families fully informed. The Israeli government must urgently reform its investigation systems so that it can fulfill this duty and bring those responsible for extrajudicial executions to justice.”
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