Israeli Border Police Thwart Stabbings by Palestinian Minors at Tomb of Patriarchs

Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf
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Border Police near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, May 22, 2015.
Border Police near the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron, May 22, 2015.Credit: Moti Milrod
Hagar Shezaf
Hagar Shezaf

For the second time that day, Israeli Border Police foiled an attempted stabbing at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron Sunday evening, Israeli police said.

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A Palestinian suspect, a minor from Hebron, approached one of the security post manned by Border Police near the holy site, a police statement said. Border Police noticed that one of the Palestinian's hands were "suspiciously hidden in his pocket" and began a security check, during which the suspect removed his hand from his pocket, took out a knife and threatened the forces.

The statement said that the forces pointed their gun at the suspect, but managed to regain control of the situation without firing. The suspect was taken into custody for interrogation by security officials.

The Palestinian suspect's knifeCredit: Israel Police

In a separate incident Sunday morning, a 17-year-old Hebron resident wearing a schoolbag approached a security post at the Tomb of the Patriarchs. While being checked, she brandished a knife at Border Police forces, who pointed their guns at her, a police statement said. The suspect then shouted "You deserve to die, I came to be a shahida [martyr]." Forces managed to get her to throw the knife aside without firing their guns.

Additional Border Police forces were called to the scene to arrest the suspect, who at that point had taken out a screwdriver, the statement said. They managed to subdue her, and she was transferred to security officials for questioning.     

The Tomb, or Cave, of the Patriarchs, in the Abrahamic tradition, is the burial site of the biblical patriarchs and matriarchs. In 1967, Israel took control of the site, which had been converted into a mosque by Saladin, and divided it into a synagogue and mosque. The majority of the structure is controlled by the waqf, while Israel is responsible for the location's security.

Hebron’s residents are mainly Palestinian, but the city has enclaves of Jews who live in uneasy relations with their neighbors. Control of the city is divided between Israeli sources and the Palestinian Authority. Netanyahu declined to renew the mandate of the international observer force when it expired earlier this year.

Earlier this week, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett instructed the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank to inform the Hebron municipality that a new Jewish neighborhood is planned for the area of the Hebron fruit and vegetable market, which has stood empty for 25 years.

According to Bennett, the neighborhood "will create a territorial continuation from the Cave of the Patriarchs to the Avraham Avinu neighborhood, and double the number of Jewish residents in the city."

In September, Netanyahu made a rare visit to the city to mark 90 years since the 1929 massacres of Jews in the city and elsewhere, prompting outcry from Palestinians. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' spokesperson Nabil Abu Rudeineh called the visit a dangerous escalation and an attempt to taunt Muslims in the region, for whom the city and especially the site of the Tomb of the Patriarchs in it are of serious religious significance.

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