Father of Palestinian siblings shot during alleged attack calls for release of video


Israel Police have declined to release a video showing an attempted stabbing attack at a Jerusalem-area checkpoint in the wake of an investigation that shows civilian security guards, not Border Police officers, killed the alleged attackers — a brother and sister.

Maram Salih Hassan Abu Ismail, 23, and Ibrahim Saleh Taha, 16, were shot dead at the Qalandiya crossing north of Jerusalem on April 27 after Ismail allegedly threw a knife at the guards. A second knife was found on her brother. Ismail, the mother of two, was pregnant, the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

The police said they cannot release the footage because it is part of an ongoing investigation, according to reports.

The Justice Ministry’s Police Internal Investigations Department announced Sunday that an inquiry determined that the siblings were killed by the civilian guards. Private guards are often stationed at the major crossings between Israel and Palestinian areas to boost security.

The siblings’ father, Salah Abu Ismail, 61, called for the release of the security camera footage, saying it would show his children were not carrying knives and police later planted them on their bodies.

Israel Police released photos of the two knives and a switchblade found on the boy last week following the incident.

Police said the two acted suspiciously and hid their hands as they walked toward the guards in the car lane, which is off-limits to pedestrians. The two ignored shouted orders to stop, according to police, and when they neared the guards, Ismail hurled her knife at one of the police officers, who was not injured. Police and security guards then opened fire on the siblings, killing them, police said.

Salah Ismail told the English-language news website The Times of Israel that his children were not carrying knives and did not intend to attack security personnel. He said his daughter had headed in the wrong direction when she arrived at the checkpoint, leading her and brother, who tried to steer her in the right direction, to be shot and killed.

The siblings did not understand what the security forces were shouting at them in Hebrew when they called on them to stop, Palestinian bystanders told reporters.

Israel has not yet released the bodies of the siblings to the family for burial.

Knife-wielding Palestinian girl, 14, arrested at checkpoint


Israeli soldiers arrested a teenage girl who approached a checkpoint near Jerusalem holding a knife.

The girl, 14 according to the Ma’an news agency, approached the Qalandiya checkpoint on Thursday evening while holding the knife in her right hand and wearing a white cloth over her mouth.

video released by Israeli authorities shows an Israeli officer spraying mace into her face before wrestling her to the ground and subduing her.

According to Israel Today, Border Police officers fired warning shots in the air when they saw her approaching, but she kept walking toward them. The paper reported she was from Beit Duqu near Ramallah.

Earlier Thursday, a 20-year-old man from Jerusalem was arrested on suspicion that he stole a firearm from a security guard for the city’s light rail and concealed it in a garbage container.

Palestinian officials have attributed recent disturbances and terrorist attacks in Jerusalem in part to Israel allowing some Knesset members to visit the Temple Mount, a Jerusalem compound containing sites holy both to Jews and to Muslims.

Israeli officials blame Palestinian incitement for the attacks.

Khaled Meshal, a leader of Hamas, said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was “playing with fire” when he allowed the Temple Mount visits.

“When he [Netanyahu] allows members of his government, the Knesset and the extremists to repeatedly storm the al-Aksa mosque, that’s dangerous,” Meshal said in an interview aired Friday by Sky News. “Our fight is a national fight, but he is turning it into a religious fight.”

Meshal blamed Netanyahu for the Nov. 18 attack on a Jerusalem synagogue, in which Palestinian assailants murdered four worshippers and a policeman, saying it was an expression of “Palestinian anger.”

Two Palestinians killed in mass protest north of Jerusalem


Two Palestinians were killed at a mass demonstration at a crossing north of Jerusalem against Israel’s military campaign in Gaza.

Seven others were seriously wounded at the protest Thursday at the Qalandiya checkpoint, Haaretz reported. The demonstration at the site between the northern West Bank and Jerusalem drew “tens of thousands,” according to Ynet.

Pro-Palestinian social media said the deaths occurred when Israeli troops opened live fire. Israel police reported that shots were fired from inside the demonstration at police, Haaretz reported.

Maan, a Palestinian news site, identified one of the dead as Mohammad al-Araj, 19.

The demonstration was organized over the last week, according to Haaretz, as a show of support for the people in Gaza. More than 700 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been killed there since Israel launched its Operation Protective Edge on July 8 to quell rocket fire from the coastal strip.

The West Bank, where the Palestinians leadership belongs to the relatively moderate Fatah movement, has been relatively quiet since Israel and Hamas escalated their conflict. Over 30 Israelis have been killed in the hostilities.

Meanwhile, rioting was reported at several locations Thursday night in eastern Jerusalem, the Times of Israel reported, after Palestinians younger than 50 were prevented from ascending the Temple Mount on Laylat al-Qadr, which is considered the most important night in the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Police had put the age restrictions into place out of concern that both the Gaza operation and Ramadan’s end would lead to violence.

Palestinians killed in Israeli raid, peace talks continue


Israeli troops shot dead three Palestinians during an early morning raid in a West Bank refugee camp on Monday, hours before negotiators met for another round of peace talks, Palestinian sources said.

Israeli border police said they entered the Qalandiya camp, near Jerusalem, to arrest a man and were confronted by a crowd throwing firebombs and rocks.

Witnesses said the Israeli forces opened fire and hospital officials told Reuters three men were killed.

The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), which provides aid to Palestinian refugees, said one of its employees, a 34-year-old father of four, was among the dead.

“Credible reports say that (Robeen Zayed) was on his way to work and was not engaged in any violent activity. He was shot in the chest,” said UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness.

A military spokeswoman confirmed that troops had been shot at and returned fire in self-defense. She added that the forces arrested the man they had come to detain.

“Large, violent crowds which significantly outnumber security forces leave no other choice but to resort to live fire for self defense,” Lieutenant-Colonel Peter Lerner, another military spokesman, said.

The riot had become “so large and violent that it was vital for forces to assist in containing it,” he added.

An Israeli security source said an investigation had showed live fire was only directed towards rioters.

PEACE TALKS CONTINUE

The U.S.-brokered peace talks carried on after the clashes, though no details emerged of the discussions.

Talks resumed last month after a three-year stalemate caused by Israeli settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in 1967 which Palestinians seek for a state along with the Gaza Strip.

Neither party has expressed much optimism for a major breakthrough and the negotiators have met largely in secret, alternating between Israeli and Palestinian locations.

Thousands of residents of the tightly-packed camp, later carried the three men's bodies, draped in Palestinian flags with their heads wrapped in traditional black and white chequered scarves, in a funeral procession that wound its way through its narrow alleyways.

Around ten masked Palestinian militants fired their automatic weapons into the air in salute.

After the funeral, dozens of local youths threw stones towards Israeli soldiers at the Qalandiya checkpoint, a main crossing between the West Bank and Jerusalem, and they were met with volleys of tear gas and rubber bullets.

Nabil Abu Rdaineh, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, described the killings as “assassinations”.

“The series of Israel crimes and new settlement tenders constitute a clear message on the real Israeli intentions towards the peace process, and there will be negative consequences to these actions,” he said in a statement.

The Israeli police arrested a local man who had previously served a nine-year prison sentence for alleged militant activity, residents said. About a dozen protesters were wounded in the clash, they added.

Israeli troops often enter Palestinian-controlled territory to detain people suspected of planning attacks, usually conducting the raids during darkness to minimize confrontation.

Violence in the West Bank has worsened since the beginning of 2013.

With Monday's deaths, Israeli forces have killed 14 Palestinians there this year, most of them in clashes, compared with three fatalities in the same period in 2012, according to United Nations figures.

Additional reporting by Ari Rabinovitch in Jerusalem; Editing by Ori Lewis and Andrew Heavens

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