UN and EU senior officials criticized on Saturday the killing of the Palestinian men by an Israeli Border Police officer in the West Bank village of Hawara near Nablus earlier on Friday.
EU high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, Josep Borrell, said that the organization "is very concerned about the increase in the level of violence in the occupied West Bank. Just in the last few days, ten Palestinians were killed by the Israeli security forces. The tragic killing of Ammar Mefleh is only the latest example." Borrell called for an investigation into the incidents that took place in the West Bank recently and added: "Those responsible must be held fully accountable."
The special UN envoy to the Middle East peace process, Tor Wennesland, also condemned the killing of Mefleh and said that the incident was shocking. "Such incidents should be properly investigated, and those responsible must be held accountable," Wennesland said.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon accused the special envoy of distorting reality. “An Israeli policeman was stabbed in his face… and consequently he shot his assailant. It wasn’t an incident but a terror attack."
Outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid also commented on Twitter, saying: "Any attempt to distort reality and tell the world a false story is simply a disgrace." Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that he "strongly condemns the attempts to present the event in a false and manipulative manner, and also the statement of the UN envoy against the soldier, who acted with determination and professionalism."
Border Police Commissioner Maj. Gen. Amir Cohen said that there was a "97 percent chance" that Mefleh was the one who stabbed the officer.
According to a police investigation conducted yesterday, a Palestinian man armed with a knife tried to break into a car in Hawara in which an Israeli couple was traveling. The man was then shot by the driver – an IDF officer on leave.
A short time later, a Palestinian man stabbed a nearby police officer, who was sitting in his patrol car with another officer, law enforcement said, adding that the assailant then dropped the knife and fled the scene.
The police officer said that he began chasing the stabber, and after about 40 meters he noticed an Israeli lying on the ground next to a car with shattered windows. According to the investigation, the Israeli was the same IDF officer on leave whose car was targeted earlier.
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The police officer said that, at this point, a man attacked him from behind. "Suddenly a man jumped on me from behind and punched me in the face," he explained. "I understand that I'm in an ongoing incident and that they are trying to take my gun."
He further tells how he tried to stop the assailant, but two more Palestinians arrived at the scene. "I tried to take isolate him and take him with me, but then two more showed up and tried to rescue him or steal my weapon," he said. This phase of the incident was recorded in a video that was later distributed on social media. It was then that the officer's rifle was dropped, and he pulled his gun and shot Mefleh.