Palestinian teen clutching screwdriver arrested in south Tel Aviv

Police detain youth following reports of suspicious behavior; arrest comes after two attempted attacks Saturday

Police at the scene of a stabbing attack outside the  defense headquarters in central Tel Aviv, on October 8, 2015. (Flash90)
Police at the scene of a stabbing attack outside the defense headquarters in central Tel Aviv, on October 8, 2015. (Flash90)

Tel Aviv police arrested a 17-year-old Palestinian teen clutching a screwdriver in the south part of the city on Saturday afternoon, following a report that he was behaving suspiciously.

Local officers were dispatched to the site at around 3 p.m., after a call was made to the police hotline, where they found the youth with screwdriver in hand. The police officers maintained a safe distance from the teen until the situation was brought under control, Channel 2 television reported. There were no reports of injuries.

The youth, from the village of Yatta in the Hebron area of the West Bank, was transferred to the Shin Bet internal security service, who will investigate whether he had actually been planning to carry out an attack.

During his arrest, the teen told police that he “wanted to die because his uncle had also been killed.”

Earlier this month, five Israelis were wounded in Tel Aviv when a Palestinian man stabbed them with a screwdriver, close to the Defense Ministry and IDF headquarters complex. The attacker fled but was shot dead by security forces not far from the scene.

Saturday’s arrest follows two attempted stabbing attacks against Israelis earlier in the day in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Security forces shot dead a Palestinian teenager Saturday morning at a checkpoint near Jenin as he tried to stab a security guard while posing as a vendor of Krembo, a popular Israeli chocolate-and-marshmallow treat.

The Defense Ministry said the teenager, identified as Muhammad Zakarna, 16 from Kabatiyeh in the northern West Bank, carried a box full of the snack as he approached the checkpoint.

Krembo, the go-to winter treat (Courtesy Wiki Commons)
Krembo, the go-to winter treat (Courtesy: Wiki Commons)

According to the ministry, the youth was moving between cars waiting at the checkpoint leading into Israel, where IDF soldiers were inspecting identification cards. He suddenly tossed the box aside and ran toward the security forces, knife in hand, before being shot. No one on the Israeli side was hurt in the attack.

Earlier in the day, police launched a manhunt after an Israeli man reported an attempted stabbing attack by an Arab assailant on Nablus Road in the Old City of Jerusalem.

The man told officers that he had been walking along the road when he heard yelling, and turned around to find an Arab man wielding a knife. According to his account, he fought off the would-be attacker, who then fled in the direction of Damascus Gate, throwing away his knife as he did so.

The Israeli man reportedly handed the knife over to police, who launched a search for the suspect.

A series of Palestinian terror attacks on Israelis, and Israeli-Palestinian clashes, have erupted in recent weeks over Palestinian claims that Israel was planning to change the status quo at the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, despite vehement denials from the Jewish state.

Nine Israelis have been killed and dozens injured in the attacks, many of them stabbings, since the beginning of the month. At least 50 Palestinians have also died, many while carrying out attacks on Israelis, and others in clashes with security forces.

AFP contributed to this report.

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