JERUSALEM: A Palestinian teenage girl tried to stab an Israeli guard at a West Bank settlement today but was shot dead, police said, in the third settlement attack in a week.
“A 13-year-old Palestinian girl with a knife in her hand ran toward the civilian security guard at Anatot (settlement),” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement. “The guard opened fire, gravely wounding her and medics pronounced her dead shortly afterward.”
Last Sunday, a Palestinian teenager entered the southern West Bank settlement of Otniel and stabbed to death Dafna Meir, a 38-year-old nurse and mother of six, at her home.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged that the alleged assailant’s home would be demolished as a deterrent.
On Monday, a new knife attack on a street in Tekoa, another West Bank settlement, wounded a 30-year-old pregnant woman. The alleged assailant was 17.
A total of 156 Palestinians and 24 Israelis have been killed in three months of attacks since October 1, according to an AFP count. Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out attacks and many of the assailants have been young people, including teenagers.
Police said that initial investigations into today’s settlement incident showed that the girl left her home in a nearby Palestinian village, feeling suicidal after arguing with her family.
“She had a knife and intended to die,” the statement said.
Most of the previous knife attacks occurred in public places, including checkpoints and junctions. They regularly result in the death of the alleged perpetrator.
The latest settlement attacks further boosted tensions after months of unrest, raising fears of an escalation in violence as well as a harsh Israeli crackdown on Palestinians.
Israeli military chief of staff Gadi Eizenkot told a security conference on Monday that a crackdown, such as new restrictions on Palestinian workers, could push more Palestinians toward violence.
“It would be a bitter mistake to impose curfews and closures,” he said. “That would work against Israeli interests.”
US ambassador Dan Shapiro on Monday condemned the stabbings as “barbaric acts of terrorism,” but also questioned Israel’s policies concerning settlements in the West Bank.
The settlements are seen as major stumbling blocks toward peace efforts since they are built on land the Palestinians view as part of their future state.
“This government and previous Israeli governments have repeatedly expressed support for a negotiated settlement that would involve mutual recognition and separation,” Shapiro told a security conference.
“Yet separation will become more and more difficult” if Israel continues to expand settlements, he said.