JERUSALEM Israeli paramilitary police officers shot and killed a knife-wielding Palestinian teenage girl who tried to attack them at an entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City on Sunday, a police spokeswoman said.
The incident was the latest in a 19-month-long period of sporadic street attacks by Palestinians against Israelis, and the bustling Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s walled Old City where it occurred has seen many attacks.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said a knife was recovered from the scene together with a farewell letter from the teenager to her family quoting a verse from the Koran that signed off with the word “shahida” – Arabic for martyr.
The Palestinian health ministry said the dead girl was 16-year-old Fatima Hjeiji from a town near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.
At least 243 Palestinians have died during a wave of sporadic violence in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank that began in October 2015.
Israel blames the violence on incitement by the Palestinian leadership and says that at least 164 of the Palestinians killed by had launched stabbing, shooting or car ramming attacks. Others died during clashes and protests.
In the same period of violence, 37 Israelis, two American tourists and a British student have been killed. The frequency of the attacks has slowed but has not stopped.
Israel has accused the Palestinian leadership of inciting the violence. The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, denies incitement and charges that in many cases, Israel has used excessive force in thwarting attackers armed with rudimentary weapons.
Israel captured those lands in the 1967 Middle East war, and maintains tight restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in some areas, especially West Bank checkpoints that border Israel. The last round of peace talks collapsed in 2014.
(Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi, Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Ros Russell)