Palestinian Shot Dead After Stabbing Israeli in Jerusalem

Footage from the scene shows forces firing at the Palestinian stabber at least twice while he was already lying on the ground. Prime Minister Bennett said he 'fully backs' the officers

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Forces at the scene of suspected stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City, on Saturday.
Forces at the scene of suspected stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City, on Saturday.Credit: Emil Salman

A Palestinian man was shot dead on Saturday by Israeli forces in Jerusalem, after a suspected stabbing attack in the Old City that left an Israeli man wounded.

Emergency services said the Israeli victim, an ultra-Orthodox man in his 20s, was taken to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in the city in moderate condition. The hospital said his situation is stable.

Footage from the scene, near Damascus Gate, shows forces shooting at the Palestinian suspect at least twice after he was already lying on the ground, seconds after the stabbing. Israel has launched a probe into the fatal shooting and the officers involved were questioned.

A video released by Israeli police shows the assailant crossing a street and then turning around and several times stabbing or attempting to stab the Jewish man, who had been walking a few steps behind him. The assailant then runs toward an Israeli Border Policeman and is shot several times by him and another officer.

Footage shared on social media, showing Israeli forces firing at the Palestinian suspect after he was on the ground, in Jerusalem's Old City, on Saturday.

Police sources said the assailant – identified as 23-year-old Mohammed Shawkat Salameh from Salfit, in the central West Bank – tried stabbing a Border Police officer, after stabbing the first man, a civilian.

A medic said the victim was fully conscious when taken to hospital, and that he was stabbed in his upper body.

Clash at Jerusalem's Old City after the stabbing attack.

Brief clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces at the scene, with police using stun grenades and other riot control measures.

Bennett defends shooting

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said he "fully backs" the officers who shot the Palestinian assailant, saying in a statement they "operated as expected of Israeli officers."

"We cannot let our capital city become a hub of terrorism," he added.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the killing, saying in a statement: "This is a continuation of the Israeli escalation against the Palestinian people." He called the shooting "a war crime."

The Israeli Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers launched an investigation into the fatal shooting by Israeli forces.

An attorney for one of the officers said they "prevented with their bodies the death of civilians in an attack by a terrorist who had one aim – to kill." An attorney representing another officer said she "acted impeccably, as was expected of her."

Israeli forces near Damascus Gate, in Jerusalem's Old City, following the stabbing attack on Saturday.Credit: Emil Salman

According to the officer who shot Salameh, the man "tried to attack me with the knife and also tried stabbing the policewoman who was with me. I moved away and fired as we were trained. I fired three to four times to neutralize the terrorist."

Public Defense Minister Omer Bar-Lev, who oversees the police, tweeted: "When there's a doubt, there's no doubt." He said the officers had "a second or two" after the first shot to "determine whether the terrorist who was hit is going to set off an explosive belt."

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid also said he "fully backs our fighters. We will not let terrorists run wild in Jerusalem or in any other part of the country." Defense Minister Benny Gantz said the officers did the "obvious" thing, stressing they have his backing.

Senior police officials said they fully back the forces at the scene for "responding quickly and ending the attack." The police's Jerusalem District chief, Doron Turgeman, also defended the officers' "swift" response that he claimed prevented further loss of life.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai called the families of the officers involved in the shooting, and told then police would provide legal assistance.

Israel's Border Police chief said he fully backed the officers whose response "resulted in the neutralization of the terrorist and prevented him from further harming fighters and civilians at the scene."

'Summary execution'

Lawmaker Ofer Cassif of the Joint List, a predominantly Arab party, called the shooting a "summary execution." Fellow Joint List member Aida Touma-Sliman tweeted: "Executing a man who no longer constitutes a threat is a horrible crime. This is the reality created by the occupation."

Esawi Freige, a minister from left-wing Meretz party, said on Twitter that shooting in such situations should be done only "to save lives, and not to take the lives of assailants who no longer pose danger." He added the footage points to "an act that shows indifference to human lives."

Mohammed Shawkat Salameh

Another cabinet member, Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked from Bennett's right-wing Yamina party, tweeted in support of the Border Police officers. "They stand on the front line, and we stand behind them," she said.

Other right-wing Knesset members also defended the Border Police officers that shot Salameh. "It should be clear to everyone that a terrorist who goes out to murder a Jew will be killed on the spot," tweeted Itamar Ben-Gvir, a far-right lawmaker from the Religious Zionism party.

Former public security minister, Likud's Amir Ohana, wrote on Twitter that "the Border Policeman who killed the terrorist should be invited to the office of the public security minister to receive a certificate of appreciation, as I have done many times during my tenure."

Hamas, the militant Islamic group ruling the Gaza Strip, praised the attack as a “new heroism,” but stopped short of claiming responsibility for it.

Damascus Gate was the epicenter of protests and clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police last spring, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. The unrest spread to other parts of the city, including a nearby holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims, eventually helping to ignite the 11-day Gaza war.

Last week, Eliyahu Kay, a 25-year-old Jewish immigrant from South Africa was killed by a gunman who opened fire with an automatic weapon in Jerusalem's Old City. The shooter, later said to be tied to Hamas, was shot dead by security forces.

This was the first fatal attack targeting Israelis in the Old City since early 2018.

Four people were wounded in the shooting that killed Eliyahu, with one hospitalized in serious condition.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.

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