Palestinian shot after lunging at police officers in Jerusalem’s Old City

Suspect in taken to hospital in serious condition; unclear if he was armed during attack; PA says 18-year-old Palestinian killed near Ramallah during clashes with Israeli soldiers

Israeli security at the scene of an attempted terror attack near the Temple Mount compound, in Jerusalem's Old City. May 11, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Israeli security at the scene of an attempted terror attack near the Temple Mount compound, in Jerusalem's Old City. May 11, 2022. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A young Palestinian man was shot on Wednesday in Jerusalem’s Old City after lunging at officers, police said, as tensions surged following the killing of a journalist in the West Bank amid clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinian gunmen during an Israeli army raid.

According to Israeli police, the Palestinian in his 20s yelled “God is Great” in Arabic while making threatening gestures at officers near the city’s flashpoint Temple Mount holy site.

“He lunged aggressively and ran quickly toward the officers stationed on the scene with an object in his hand, crying out ‘Allahu Akbar’ and waving his hands toward them in stabbing and attacking movements,” Israeli police said in a statement.

Officers opened fire, wounding the alleged assailant. The Palestinian was rushed to the Hadassah Hospital at Mount Scopus in serious condition, a Hadassah spokesperson said.

Police did not say if the suspect had been carrying a weapon.

“This was not a knife, but a different object that he drew out of a plastic bag,” a spokesperson for the police’s East Jerusalem division said.

The spokesperson declined to elaborate further.

In most cases, police publish photographic evidence of knives or other weapons after attempted attacks, but refrained from doing so this time.

On Wednesday morning, Al Jazeera reporter Shireen Abu Akleh was shot and killed in the West Bank city of Jenin as Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian gunmen. Palestinian witnesses said Israeli soldiers shot and killed Abu Akleh, while Israeli officials said Palestinian gunmen may have fired the fatal shot.

Police at the scene of a suspected stabbing attempt in Jerusalem’s Old City, May 11, 2022 (Israel Police)

Abu Akleh, a trailblazing Palestinian woman in journalism, was a familiar face for tens of millions of viewers around the Arab world. Hundreds of politicians, colleagues and friends around the world mourned her death after the news broke on Wednesday.

Israel Defense Forces chief Aviv Kohavi said Wednesday he regretted her death and vowed to fully investigate the circumstances of the incident. He said it was not clear “at this stage” who shot her.

Also Wednesday, after Abu Akleh’s death, a Palestinian teenager died after being hit by an Israeli rubber-tipped bullet during clashes near Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority health ministry reported.

Palestinian health officials named the victim as 18-year-old Thair Khalil al-Yarouzi. According to the Health Ministry, the bullet struck him directly in the heart, killing him.

The Israeli army said the troops had fired rubber bullets at Palestinian rioters who were “throwing stones at an Israeli military outpost near the Psagot settlement.”

Israeli security forces use rubber-tipped steel bullets as a form of crowd control. The rounds can maim, blind, or even kill their targets, and rights groups have advocated to limit their use.

Mourners gathered at Abu Akleh’s Jerusalem home in the middle-class Palestinian neighborhood of Beit Hanina to pay their respects. Police officers arrived in the afternoon to discuss reports of “incitement,” an apparent reference to the Palestinian flags hung over the door.

Civil rights lawyers say flying the Palestinian flag is legal under Israeli law. Israeli police regularly take down Palestinian flags at gatherings and detain those who wave them on suspicion of incitement.

“The police encountered riots and cries of incitement and had a dialogue with the landlords in order to ensure law and order in the place,” the Israeli police said in a statement.

Clashes later broke out between Palestinians and police near Beit Hanina as part of a protest of Abu Akleh’s death, police said.

Rioters threw stones, blocked traffic and clashed with police on Route 20 — the road between Beit Hanina and the local Jewish neighborhood of Pisgat Ze’ev. Police arrested three suspects at the scene.

Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians were already high ahead of Wednesday’s shooting.

Palestinian terrorists, many from the Jenin area, have crossed the fence into Israel to commit terror attacks, part of a bloody wave of violence that has left 19 people dead in Israel and the West Bank since late March.

In this undated photo provided by Al Jazeera Media Network, Shireen Abu Akleh, a journalist for Al Jazeera network, stands next to a TV camera with the Old City of Jerusalem in the background. (Al Jazeera Media Network via AP)

Israeli forces have responded by cracking down in Jenin and other areas, stepping up raids and arrests in an attempt to restore order, and by increasing patrols and enforcement along the West Bank border. The security operations have often led to armed clashes with Palestinians.

According to the Palestinian Authority health ministry, 30 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli troops since late March. Some committed violent terror attacks, while others participated in clashes with soldiers, and some appeared to have been unarmed bystanders.

Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.

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