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Palestinian shot, detained after killing 3 Israelis in settlement stabbing attack

July 21, 2017 11:28 P.M. (Updated: July 23, 2017 4:47 P.M.)
The illegal Israeli settlement of Neve Zuf. (AFP/ File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A Palestinian was shot and reportedly left in a moderate condition after breaking into a home in an illegal Israeli settlement in the central occupied West Bank and carrying out a stabbing attack that left three Israelis dead and one injured Friday night, according to the Israeli army.

An Israeli army spokesperson said an assailant entered a home in the illegal Halamish settlement, also known as Neve Tzuf, and stabbed four Israelis.

Two succumbed to their wounds shortly thereafter and two were hospitalized in a serious condition. A third was later confirmed dead.

The assailant was shot, the spokesperson said. He was identified by Israeli media as Omar al-Abed, between 19 and 20 years old, from the nearby village of Kobar in the northern Ramallah district.

Israeli police later identified the three victims as Yosef Salomon, 70, and his adult children, Chaya, 46, and Elad, 36. Tova Salomon, 68, Yosef Salomon's wife and the mother of Elad and Chaya, was seriously wounded in the attack.

They were reportedly having shabbat dinner with about 10 members of their family when the attacker broke into the house. Some were able to hide in a separate room and call the police and yell for help. A neighbor, a soldier in the Israeli army, reportedly heard the disturbance, and arrived to the scene and shot and moderately wounded the assailant, according to Ynet.

Al-Abed reportedly wrote on Facebook before carrying out the attack: "I have many dreams and I believe they will come true, I love life and I love to make others happy, but what is my life is when they (Israel) murder women and children and defile our Al-Aqsa?"

"All I have is this sharpened knife to comply with the call of our Aqsa… If you don't open its gates, I am confident that others will follow me to strike with an iron hand. I am warning you,” he continued. 

“Muslims, wrap me with the flags of God's prophet, wrap my head with the headband of al-Qassam (Hamas military wing al-Qassam Brigades), and wrap my chest with Yasser Arafat’s headband and leave them with me in the grave."  

The deadly attack took place after three Palestinians were killed -- two of them by Israeli police and one reportedly by an Israeli settler -- when large-scale civil disobedience demonstrations in Jerusalem erupted into violent clashes earlier on Friday.

Hundreds more unarmed Palestinians were wounded by Israeli forces, amid protests across the occupied territory against new security measures at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem's Old City, imposed in the wake of a deadly shoot-out at the holy site last week that left three Palestinian assailants and two Israeli officers killed.

Palestinians have seen the measures at Al-Aqsa as the latest example of Israeli authorities using Israeli-Palestinian violence and tensions as a means of furthering control over important sites in the occupied Palestinian territory and normalizing heightened measures by Israeli forces targeting Palestinians.

Hamas spokesman Hussam Badran reportedly said in response to the settlement attack: "We will continue fighting the occupation in all points of friction for the support of Al-Aqsa."

The attack raised the number of Israelis killed by Palestinians since the beginning of the year to 13, while 49 Palestinians have been killed by Israelis during the same period,14 of whom were killed in the month of July alone.

In the wake of the incident, large numbers of Israeli forces raided Kobar and imposed a closure on the village, only allowing "humanitarian cases" to exit or enter the village -- typical of the Israeli army's response to deadly attacks on Israelis that is routinely denounced by rights groups as collective punishment enacted on innocent Palestinians.

Israeli forces broke into al-Abed's home overnight and arrested his brother while beginning initial preparations for demolishing the house, Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.

The Israeli army also reportedly detained a "suspicious" unarmed Palestinian near Halamish, according to Ynet, which said the Israeli army was investigating whether he was somehow connected to the incident.

Additional troops are expected to be deployed in the occupied West Bank.

Last summer, after a 17-year-old Palestinian boy broke into the illegal Israeli settlement Kiryat Arba and stabbed a 13-year-old Israeli girl to death, Israel’s right-wing government reacted by pursuing a number of projects aimed at strengthening and expanding housing for Israelis residing in illegal settlements across the occupied West Bank.

Meanwhile, a series of measures were imposed on Palestinian civilians, such sealing entire villages in the West Bank and restricting movement for tens -- if not hundreds -- of thousands of residents, and revoking thousands of work permits, in what rights groups called “collective punishment” and illegal under international law.
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