Thursday 14 November 2019

Two Palestinians shot after bid to board Israeli schoolbus

Onlookers stand at the scene of a stabbing, west of Jerusalem, in the town of Beit Shemes.
Onlookers stand at the scene of a stabbing, west of Jerusalem, in the town of Beit Shemes.

Inna Lazareva in Tel Aviv

Two Palestinian assailants tried to board a school bus in the Israeli town of Beit Shemesh yesterday morning, stabbing a man at the bus stop, police reported.

The attackers attempted to board the bus, but were stopped by the locals who questioned why they were trying to travel on a school bus. The assailants then attacked an Israeli man at the bus stop, before being shot by security forces.

One was killed while the other was left severely injured.

The attackers were identified as Mahmoud Ghanimat and Makdad Heeh, both 20 years old from a West Bank village of Tzurif. Both worked at a building site in Beit Shemesh. A subsequent search revealed they wore shirts bearing the insignia of the Izz a-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas.

Speaking in a rally in South Africa on Wednesday, Hamas leader Khaled Mashal pledged that "the Jerusalem intifada" will go on.

"The uprisings shall continue until freedom is achieved and the land is for Palestine and its people," Mr Mashal said, 'The Times of Israel' daily reported.

Earlier yesterday morning, soldiers shot dead an Israeli Jewish man just after midnight - police say the man assaulted the soldiers and tried to snatch their gun when they boarded a bus in Jerusalem. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said they were investigating the details of the incident.

Hours earlier, five IDF soldiers were injured in a car-ramming attack in the West Bank.

On Wednesday evening, four Israelis were arrested for the lynch mob attack of the innocent Eritrean asylum seeker, Haptom Zerhom.

Mr Zerhom (29) was murdered in the Beersheba bus station on Sunday evening in the wake of a shooting attack by an Israeli bedouin who killed an IDF soldier.

Graphic video footage shows people kicking Mr Zerhom and throwing a chair at his head after he was shot eight times and lay on the ground in a pool of blood. A subsequent autopsy revealed that Mr Zerhom died of the gunshots, not as a result of the beating by the mob, which included two prison guards.

Mr Zerhom's family, however, may not be entitled to financial compensation given to 'victims of hostile acts' - as the victim's permit enabling him to temporarily stay in Israel had run out, 'Maariv' newspaper reported. Mr Zerhom was travelling to Beer Sheba in order to renew the permit on the day that he was killed.

A memorial service was held in Tel Aviv attended by hundreds of Eritreans, Israelis and others in the city's Levinsky Park. Amid the candle-lit vigil, Eritreans deplored the Israeli government's treatment of the African asylum seekers.

Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said he was "cautiously encouraged" after talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that the conflict with the Palestinians could be pulled "back from the precipice".

Mr Kerry, who met Mr Netanyahu in Berlin yesterday to discuss this month's surge in violence, said he now planned talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah "because it is critical to create some space" for finding ways out of the impasse.


"What is happening now is an urgent call to all with any responsibility - and there are many countries that bear responsibilities with respect to this region - to help to try to resolve these age-old differences of a frozen conflict," Mr Kerry said in Berlin. He declined to specify which steps to defuse the tension are envisaged.

Mr Netanyahu said before meeting Kerry that it was time for the world to tell Abbas to "stop spreading lies about Israel". Palestinian claims that Israel intended to change the status quo at a Jerusalem shrine holy to Muslims and Jews were false, he said in Berlin.

Mr Kerry stopped over en route to talks in Vienna with Russian, Turkish and Saudi counterparts on halting the civil war in Syria, which is sending tens of thousands of refugees to Germany. Mr Netanyahu was hosted Wednesday by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who defended Israel's right to exist while urging all sides to help ease the violence.

Irish Independent

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