Israel looking into police shooting of Palestinian attacker

AP News
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Posted: Mar 10, 2016 2:34 PM
Israel looking into police shooting of Palestinian attacker

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel said Thursday it is looking into the death of a Palestinian attacker shot dead by police after he killed an American student in a stabbing spree earlier this week.

In Tuesday's attack, the Palestinian assailant ran through the ancient port city of Jaffa with a knife, stabbing several people along his way, until he was shot by a police officer.

Israel's Justice Ministry said the routine check is conducted after every shooting incident by police.

It follows a video that emerged from the scene of the Jaffa stabbing, showing the attacker lying on the ground as an onlooker yells at the officer to shoot him "in the head." A sound that seems to be gunfire is heard. Other voices then tell the officer to stop, saying the attacker "is lying down" and "don't shoot him again."

The Palestinians accuse Israel of using excessive force in trying to subdue more than five months of near-daily Palestinian attacks. The bloodshed — mainly stabbings but also shootings and car-ramming attacks — has killed 28 Israelis and two Americans. During the same time, at least 179 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, a majority of which are said by Israel to have been attackers. The rest were killed in clashes with security forces.

Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri says police arrested about 250 Palestinians from the West Bank who were in Israel without valid permits, as part of a security crackdown since the Jaffa stabbing. Police also arrested 30 Israelis who employed or assisted the West Bank Palestinians.

The attack in Jaffa took place as Vice President Joe Biden, on a visit to Israel, was meeting former Israeli President Shimon Peres at the nearby Peres Center for Peace. The American victim, Taylor Force, was a 28-year-old MBA student at Vanderbilt University and a West Point graduate who had served tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Biden criticized the Palestinians for failing to condemn the stabbing, after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' political party posted a statement online praising the stabber.

A statement from Abbas' office following his meeting with Biden on Wednesday night said Abbas offered his condolences for the American's death, but stressed that Israel has killed nearly 200 Palestinians during the current round of violence.

In a press conference with the visiting Romanian president Thursday, Abbas did not directly mention the Jaffa attack but said he opposes "violence, extremism and terrorism regardless of its source."

Palestinians say the violence stems from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli occupation. Israel says it is fueled by a campaign of Palestinian incitement compounded on social media sites that glorify and encourage attacks.

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Associated Press writer Mohammed Daraghmeh contributed to this report from Ramallah, West Bank.