Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Israel arrests man in Jerusalem knife attack that killed 5

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Israeli authorities announced the arrest of a man suspected of carrying out an attack that killed five people during a knife attack on a bus in Jerusalem on Saturday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the possibility that the incident was related to a planned rocket attack against the Jewish state, and mentioned that the attacker may have intended to carry out an attack with a vehicle.

In a statement, Netanyahu said that the suspected attacker, a Palestinian from the West Bank who was wounded by the bus driver during the attack, was currently in hospital in the Jerusalem area.

The suspect was previously convicted in the 1990s for spying for the Israeli intelligence service, Mossad, Israeli authorities said. It was not immediately clear why the suspect was in prison.

Following the attack, a man and a woman were killed in separate overnight shootouts.

The West Bank shooting happened just before noon Saturday in East Jerusalem, close to the Arab village of Beit Liwa. Israeli authorities said a 34-year-old from the village, identified as Mustafa Mizyara, was killed after an exchange of fire with police forces.

Just over an hour later, Israeli forces captured a Palestinian suspected of stabbing four people to death in the nearby East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher.

The operations sparked scattered protests by Palestinians throughout East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The Saturday afternoon bus attack marked the deadliest in Jerusalem since mid-September, when a Palestinian man murdered a young family of four in their home before being shot dead by police.

“We were greeted with violence and severe attacks on our buses,” Oded Revivi, the Jerusalem region police commander, told reporters Saturday.

Speaking just after Saturday’s incident, Nissim Abu Rudeineh, a legislator from Netanyahu’s Likud party, said he was convinced that the knife attack was linked to the forthcoming funeral of Yossi Ghazaleh, a key operative in the Islamic Jihad terror group, one of the group’s two main factions in the West Bank.

On Saturday morning, before the stabbing attacks, the Ghazaleh family was attending his burial services, at a cemetery near the Ramallah crossing that Israel established in 2007 for Palestinians entering Israel for work.

As Palestinian Authority officials attended Ghazaleh’s funeral, he left a sermon issued by the Abu Aisah Hamas terror group, near Hebron. Hamas militants have been responsible for devastating attacks in Jerusalem in recent years, most of them originating in the West Bank.

Just before the sermon, Israeli police closed the cemetery in keeping with Palestinian custom, Palestinians are said to have liked to mark a Palestinian funeral with displays of blood, following which they bury the dead during a frenzy of stabbings.

Naggat Okasha, a spokesman for the Palestinian health ministry, told The Washington Post that Palestinian security forces rescued two individuals after another knife attack in the Bethlehem area that occurred just hours before the attack.

A woman had sustained serious stab wounds but was expected to survive.

The attack came less than a week after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas tried to tighten security on the streets of the West Bank with orders for a ban on access to Jerusalem by Palestinians who are not residents of the city.

It also came just hours after President Donald Trump announced he had recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in a move that has angered Palestinians and triggered mass protests throughout the world.

Abbas and his Fatah party have denounced Trump’s decision, calling it an “Israeli flagrant attack on all global efforts to achieve peace,” including that of former U.S. President Barack Obama, who had negotiated with Abbas and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

-With Kamran Jebreili in Cairo.

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