Netanyahu demands PA condemn deadly Jerusalem attack
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Liberman hails Border Police officer for 'courage and determination' in fighting assailant as he stabbed her

Netanyahu demands PA condemn deadly Jerusalem attack

Fatah blamed Israel for 'war crimes' for killing attackers; PM expresses deep sorrow at killing of Hadas Malka; may turn Damascus Gate, frequent terror scene, into 'sterile area'

Israeli forensic police check the body of a Palestinian assailant outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on June 16, 2017 following a terror attack in which Israeli policewoman Hadas Malka was stabbed to death. (AFP PHOTO / Thomas COEX)
Israeli forensic police check the body of a Palestinian assailant outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on June 16, 2017 following a terror attack in which Israeli policewoman Hadas Malka was stabbed to death. (AFP PHOTO / Thomas COEX)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday demanded that the Palestinian Authority condemn the terror attack in Jerusalem by three Palestinians in which Border Police officer Hadar Malka was stabbed to death.

“The Prime Minister demands that the Palestinian Authority condemn the attack and expects the international community to do so too,” a statement from his office said.

The statement came after Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party condemned Israeli forces for shooting dead the three attackers.

In a statement late Friday, Fatah called the deaths of the three assailants, who attacked at two locations near Jerusalem’s Old City, a “war crime.”

Fatah “condemns the war crime carried out by Israeli occupation forces in Jerusalem against three Palestinian teens,” spokesperson Osama al-Kawasme said in a statement. Fatah added that “the international community’s silence emboldened Israel to further spill the blood of Palestinians.”

Border Police officer Hadas Malka was killed on June 16, 2017 in a stabbing attack near Damascus Gate. (Courtesy)
Border Police officer Hadas Malka was killed on June 16, 2017 in a stabbing attack near Damascus Gate. (Courtesy)

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman responded bitterly to the Fatah stance, saying that it “shows there is no partner (for peace) on the other side.”

Liberman praised Malka, 23, who tried to draw her weapon and fought with her assailant as he was stabbing her, for the “determination and courage” with which she acted. She was “an inspiration to all of us,” he said.

The three assailants, armed with an automatic weapon and knives, carried out near simultaneous attacks at two adjacent locations. Two attacked a group of police officers at Zedekiah’s Cave with an automatic weapon and knives, and a third stabbed Malka a short distance away at Damascus Gate. All three had previously been involved in “terrorist activities,” Israel’s Shin Bet security service said.

The statement from Netanyahu’s office also said that he was considering turning the area near Damascus Gate, which has been the site of frequent attacks, into a “sterile area.” It gave no further details.

Over the past 18 months the Old City, and the Damascus Gate in particular, have seen numerous “lone wolf” attacks by Palestinians, and in one case a Jordanian national.

Israeli security forces at the scene of a terror attack near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on June 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israeli security forces at the scene of a terror attack near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on June 16, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Netanyahu expressed his deep sorrow over the death of Malka, who was critically wounded in the attack and died of her wounds at Hadassah Hospital in Mount Scopus.

She will be laid to rest at midnight Saturday in the military ceremony in the southern city of Ashdod.

Four other people were lightly and moderately injured in the attack — including a policeman and two East Jerusalem Palestinians. Some reports said the gun used by the attackers jammed, preventing further casualties.

Following the attack, Netanyahu revoked the entry permits given to Palestinians during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan to visit their relatives in Israel. He did not, however, revoke permission for West Bank males over 40 to enter Jerusalem for Ramadan prayers.

Israel had eased restrictions on the entrance of Palestinians from the West Bank for Ramadan, including permitting daily family visits during Sundays through Thursdays.

Israel’s Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon on Saturday urged the Security Council to denounce the attack.

“The payments made by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families encourage heinous attacks like we saw today,” Dannon said.

“The Palestinian leadership continues to pledge their support for peace, while making monthly payments to terrorists and educating their children to hate. The international community must demand that the Palestinians put an end to these intolerable acts of violence,” he added.

“I call on the Security Council to condemn this terror attack immediately.”

Israel ambassador Danny Danon speaks at a United Nations Security Council meeting, April 20, 2017. (UN Photo / Rick Bajornas)
Israel ambassador Danny Danon speaks at a United Nations Security Council meeting, April 20, 2017. (UN Photo/Rick Bajornas)

Israel and the US have been pressing the PA to halt payments to the families of terrorists jailed for attacking or killing Israelis.

Israeli officials say Palestinians have paid out some NIS 4 billion ($1.12 billion) over the past four years to Palestinian prisoners and “martyrs” — those killed during attacks against Israel. Jerusalem insists the policy is a major incentive to would-be assailants to carry out attacks.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week claimed the PA intended to end the practice. However following PA denials, Tillerson appeared to walk back his statement, saying there was an “active discussion” between Washington and Ramallah on the matter.

The Shin Bet security service named the three assailants as Adel Ankush, 18, Bra’a Saleh Atta, 19, and Usama Ahmed Atta, 19.

All three were from Deir Abu-Mashal, a village near Ramallah, and had been arrested for or involved in “popular terror activity,” a Shin Bet statement said. Security forces late Friday night surrounded Deir Abu-Mashal and raided the assailants’ homes to question their family members regarding the attack.

In a first, the Islamic State terror group claimed responsibility for the attack.

“Thank God we have managed to carry out an attack in the heart of Jerusalem,” the group said in a statement. It said its “lions” had managed to “exact revenge” on the Israelis. “With God’s help this will not be the last attack,” it said.

Hamas dismissed the statement, and said all three assailants were members of Palestinian terrorist organizations. The attack was carried out by “two Palestinians from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a third from Hamas,” Hamas said early Saturday.

Israeli officials cast doubt on both claims, saying there was no indication of IS involvement, and that the attack did not appear to have been directed by any group.

Hamas praised the attack, saying it was “new proof that the Palestinian people continue their revolution against the occupiers and that the intifada (popular uprising) will continue until complete freedom is achieved.”

Agencies contributed to this report.

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