RAMALLAH, West Bank (AP) — Israeli forces shot a female Palestinian attacker after she attempted to stab a soldier at a West Bank checkpoint on Tuesday, the military said, as tensions continued to simmer ahead of this week’s major Jewish and Muslim holidays.
The military said forces opened fire and “identified a hit” following the incident in the West Bank city of Hebron. The woman’s condition was not immediately known, although the military said she was taken to a Jerusalem hospital for treatment. The soldier was not wounded.
The woman was identified as 18-year-old university student Hadeel al-Hashlamon. Her father, Salah al-Hashlamon, said she was in critical condition at an Israeli hospital but had no further details. Earlier Tuesday, the military said a Palestinian was found dead in a village near Hebron allegedly after an explosive device he was handling went off. The military said it arrived in the area to respond to rock throwing. The Palestinians said the circumstances behind the man’s death were unclear.
The violence comes amid rising tensions surrounding Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The site, holy to both Jews and Muslims, has been a flashpoint for violence in recent days.
Tensions boiled over last week on the eve of the Jewish new year holiday of Rosh Hashanah when Palestinians barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa Mosque and, in clashes with police that would continue for days, threw rocks and firecrackers at officers. An Israeli man was also killed in Jerusalem when Palestinians pelted his car with rocks.
Several rockets from the Gaza Strip have also been fired recently, and Israel has deployed its Iron Dome rocket defense battery in towns near the Palestinian territory. Speaking in Paris on Tuesday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas called for an end to the violence. “It’s extremely dangerous. We don’t want to see this continue,” he told the media after a meeting with French President Francois Hollande.
Ahead of the Yom Kippur fast, which begins Tuesday evening, Israel reinstated a rule banning Muslim men under age 40 from the Al-Aqsa Mosque as a measure to ensure calm during the holiday. It also said West Bank and Gaza crossings would be closed during the holiday, and would reopen Wednesday.
Police said security will be beefed up during the 25-hour fast, which comes two days ahead of the Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday, also known as the Festival of Sacrifice. Eid al-Adha commemorates the willingness of the prophet Ibrahim — or Abraham as he is known in the Bible — to sacrifice his son in accordance with God’s will, though in the end God provides him a sheep to sacrifice instead.
Near the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, police were seen preventing men and women from entering the mosque Tuesday. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said some women were being barred from entering because they were part of an outlawed group that sees itself as defenders of the Muslim holy site and tries to disrupt Jewish visits to the site.
The age limit for men at Al-Aqsa has been put in place intermittently after protests erupted at the site, with mostly younger Palestinians throwing rocks clashing with police at the compound and elsewhere.
Goldenberg reported from Tel Aviv, Israel. Associated Press cameraman Shlomo Mor and producer Daniela Berretta contributed to this report from Jerusalem; Associated Press writer Sylvie Corbet contributed from Paris.