Israel has tightened security in Hebron as the West Bank city has seen a spate of deadly attacks that have rocked Israel and the Palestinian territories since October 2015
Israel has tightened security in Hebron as the West Bank city has seen a spate of deadly attacks that have rocked Israel and the Palestinian territories since October 2015 © Hazem Bader - AFP/File
Israel has tightened security in Hebron as the West Bank city has seen a spate of deadly attacks that have rocked Israel and the Palestinian territories since October 2015
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AFP
Last updated: January 1, 1970

Palestinian tries to stab Israelis in West Bank, shot dead

A Palestinian woman attempted to stab an Israeli guard at a flashpoint West Bank shrine on Friday and was shot dead, Israeli police said, the third violent incident in two days.

They said that no police were wounded in the attempt at the site in the southern West Bank city of Hebron, known to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque and to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said that a young Palestinian woman who arrived at a security checkpoint at an entrance to the shrine, revered by both faiths, aroused the suspicions of border police.

"Officers took the suspect into a side room to carry out a thorough check," she said. "Suddenly she drew a knife and tried to stab the policewoman who was searching her."

"Another officer who was there saw what was happening He responded with fast and precise fire at the terrorist until she was neutralised," she added.

Palestinian security officials named the dead woman as Sarah Tarayra, 27, a relative of Mohammed Nasser Tarayra, 19, who on Thursday fatally stabbed a US-Israeli teenager in her home at the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba adjoining Hebron.

Mohammed, like Sarah from the nearby Palestinian village of Bani Naim, was shot dead by settlement security guards.

Friday's incident was the third in Israel and the Palestinian territories in two days and came as Muslims neared the end of their holy fasting month of Ramadan.

On Thursday evening, in the Israeli seaside town of Netanya, a Palestinian from the northern West Bank stabbed a man and woman, both Israelis, before being shot dead by a passing civilian, police said.

Hebron has been prominent in a spate of deadly unrest that has rocked Israel and the Palestinian territories since last October.

Several hundred Jewish settlers live in a tightly guarded enclave in the heart of the city of more than 200,000 Palestinians, a persistent source of tensions.

Kiryat Arba lies on the outskirts of the city and has a population of more than 7,000.

On Thursday evening, hundreds of settlers there buried 13-year-old Hallel Yaffa Ariel, in accordance with Jewish custom which requires speedy interment.

The victim's family said she was attacked in her sleep that morning, and the military released a photograph of her blood-spattered bedroom.

"To see Hallel's room, to see the bloodstains next to her bed and the books and clothes of a little girl, is shocking," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a condolence visit to the family home on Friday.

"It reminds us again who and what we are up against," his office quoted him as saying.

The violence since October has killed at least 213 Palestinians, 33 Israelis, two Americans, an Eritrean and a Sudanese.

- Police reinforcements in Jerusalem -

In Jerusalem, Israeli police said they had deployed thousands of officers "in and around the Old City" in preparation for the fourth and final Friday prayers of Ramadan.

"Thousands of (Muslims) are expected to make their way to the Old City for prayers," a police statement said in English.

"Police and border police will be patrolling the different areas to prevent -- and respond to if necessary -- any incidents."

In an effort to cap rising tensions, Israeli authorities announced on Tuesday that they were closing Jerusalem's hypersensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound to non-Muslim visitors after a series of clashes between worshippers and police.

The decision will apply until the end of Ramadan next week, a police spokeswoman told AFP.

Clashes between Muslims and police broke out on Sunday over Jewish visits to the compound, with youths throwing stones and security forces firing tear gas and sponge-tipped bullets.

Islamic officials accused Israel of breaking a tacit ban on non-Muslim access to the site during the last 10 days of Ramadan.

The period, which began on Sunday, is the most solemn for Muslims and attracts the highest number of worshippers.

Non-Muslims, including Jews, are allowed to visit the site during set hours but are barred from praying to avoid provoking tensions.

Revered by Jews as the Temple Mount, the mosque compound is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

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