A Palestinian woman armed with a knife and her younger brother were shot dead by Israeli security forces at the Qalandiyah checkpoint in the West Bank on Wednesday morning, Jerusalem Police said, prompting clashes in the area.
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Before being shot, the two were ordered to stop several times but continued to approach officers and guards stationed at a drive-through checkpoint not intended for pedestrians.
According to the police, as the two approached, the woman's hand was buried inside her bag and his hand was behind his back. The two eventually heeded the police's call, stopping a short distance from the officers and turning away, but the woman then spun back around and pulled out the knife, throwing it directly at one of the officers. Police and security guards then shot the two.
The police found another knife identical to the one she was carrying, while a switchblade was found on the her brother's body.
Police and Palestinians identified the woman as 23-year-old Maram Abu Ismayil, a mother of two from East Jerusalem, but originally from Beit Surik in the West Bank. Later, Palestinians identified him as Ibrahim Salah Tahah, her 16-year-old brother. Palestinians further claim that Israeli forces fired numerous bullets at the two and prevented medics from treating them afterwards.
Clashes then broke out in the area, with Border Police confronting about 30 Palestinians who threw rocks at them with tear gas.
Hassan Tahah, another sibling, told Haaretz that he doesn't believe his sister was planning to carry out an attack. "We have no details about what transpired and no one briefed us, but I don't believe this whole terrorist attack story," he said. According to him, his sister was on her way to a doctor's appointment, accompanied by his brother. "She was probably lost, or didn't understand what was going on at the roadblock, and the soldiers shot her and my brother," he said.
The attempted attack comes after a relative calm in violence, which defense officials attribute to improved intelligence capabilities due to leads about potential attackers from social media. In the past, the IDF chief of staff has said the army had no prior warning of lone-wolf attacks, but a senior officer told Haaretz the trend was now reversing and the military has the ability to stop potential attackers beforehand, either at their homes or en route to an attack.
The drop in attacks is also the result of cooperation between Israel and the Palestinian security forces. The IDF chief told the cabinet last week that coordination with the Palestinians has improved. Furthermore, the Palestinians have begun addressing the issue through educational programs attempting to discourage youths from launching such attacks.