Israel ends closure on East Jerusalem shops imposed after attack
search

Israel ends closure on East Jerusalem shops imposed after attack

Police decide to increase presence near Old City in light of stabbings, but allow store owners to reopen businesses

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Illustrative. A Palestinian boy carries a lantern past shops in the Old City of Jerusalem on June 16, 2015.(AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)
Illustrative. A Palestinian boy carries a lantern past shops in the Old City of Jerusalem on June 16, 2015.(AFP PHOTO/AHMAD GHARABLI)

Jerusalem police lifted a closure order on shops in the area surrounding the Old City’s Damascus Gate on Monday evening, police said, hours after an Arab man stabbed two officers at the site.

After the attack, shopkeepers on Sultan Suleiman Street, Salah ad-Din Street and inside the Damascus Gate were told to close their businesses so police could conduct a full investigation into the events of the early morning stabbing attack.

Jerusalem police chief Yoram Halevy decided to rescind that order following a “situational assessment,” but also decided to send additional troops into the area and alter the “operational deployment,” according to a police statement.

“We are acting professionally and impartially in order to carry out the investigation of the attack and restore the normal routines and security for all the city’s residents,” the police said.

Israeli police stand guard on Sultan Suleiman Street near the Herod's Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, where an East Jerusalem man stabbed and wounded two Israeli police officers on September 19, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)
Israeli police stand guard on Sultan Suleiman Street near the Herod’s Gate entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem, where an East Jerusalem man stabbed and wounded two Israeli police officers on September 19, 2016. (AFP/Menahem Kahana)

The area surrounding the Damascus Gate has been the scene of two stabbing attacks in less than a week — on Monday and Friday — and was also one of the most common sites for stabbing and shooting attacks during last year’s wave of terror.

On Monday morning, just after 7:30 a.m., 20-year-old Ayman Kurd came up behind two police officers and stabbed them both repeatedly, seriously injuring a female officer and moderately wounding a male officer, according to police.

Kurd, a resident of East Jerusalem’s Ras al-Amoud neighborhood, was shot and critically wounded in the attack, police said.

In Friday’s attack, a Jordanian national attempted to stab a group of border guards stationed at the Damascus Gate, before he was shot and killed by the officers.

Israeli security forces have already “boosted their forces” ahead of the upcoming holidays and in light of the uptick in violence against police officers, soldiers and civilians in recent days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.

“The security forces are on heightened alert and I will meet with them today in order to ensure that we will be ready to defend our people during this sensitive period,” he said.

Six attacks over the weekend — four stabbings, a car ramming and a rock throwing — caught many Israelis by surprise, as the violence that marked 2015 and early 2016 appeared to have waned in recent months, and raised fears that regular attacks could return.

“[The Eid al-Adha holiday] and September are always more susceptible to spikes in violent Palestinian activities,” a military official, speaking anonymously, said Saturday.

“The motivation and inspiration to carry out attacks against Israelis remains strong,” the official said.

In the past year, Israel saw a wave of so-called “lone-wolf” Palestinian terror attacks, which have claimed the lives of 35 Israelis and four foreign nationals since October 2015. Over 200 Palestinians have also been killed in the past year, with the Israeli army and police saying that most of those killed were attackers or involved in clashes with security forces.

read more:
comments