Thousands attend West Bank funeral amid rising violence

Mourners bury attacker Muhannad Halabi, as stabbing incidents and shootings continue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Wounded Palestinian girl lies on the ground during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Bet El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah
Palestinians rush to help a wounded protester [Reuters]

Thousands of Palestinians have gathered in the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah for the funeral of law student Muhannad Halabi, who was shot dead after he stabbed to death two Israelis last weekend, as violence continues to grow across the occupied Palestinian territories and Israel.

Frustration boiling over in occupied West Bank

At least one Palestinian was killed on Friday, and five others, along with three Israelis, were wounded in a string of tit-for-tat attacks following a week of violence.

Violent clashes have increased in frequency since Israeli security forces began to crackdown on Palestinian worshippers at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem last month. 

Four stabbing attacks – three allegedly by Palestinians, another by an Israeli suspect – took place across Israel and the occupied West Bank on Friday.

A Palestinian woman was critically wounded after being shot while allegedly trying to stab an Israeli security guard at a bus station in the northern Israeli city of Afula, according to an Israeli police spokesman.

Muhannad Darabee, a photographer who was at the clashes near Ramallah, told Al Jazeera there were more than a thousand people protesting in Beit El settlement in the West Bank, and at least two people were seriously wounded by Israeli soldiers, who were using live ammunition, rubber-coated steel bullets, and water cannon.

Darabee said 24 people were wounded by live ammunition in the West Bank, and 44 others by rubber-coated steel bullets and other wounds.

Beit El has witnessed previous clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers and was the scene of an incident where undercover Israeli soldiers attacked protesters.

LIVE BLOG: Israeli-Palestinian violence

Two Israelis – a policeman and a teenager – were also moderately injured during similar stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and Kiryat Arba, a Jewish-only settlement in the occupied West Bank. 

In Kiryat Arba, a Palestinian suspect was shot dead after stabbing a police officer. 

Earlier in the day, an Israeli man stabbed four Palestinians in the southern Israeli city of Dimona. Police described his motives as “nationalistic”. The victims sustained moderate wounds. 

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Speaking to Al Jazeera, Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said that security forces have been deployed across the country, including “3,500 police officers out [in Jerusalem] to prevent sporadic attacks by lone wolves”. 

In addition to extending a ban for men under the age of 45 who want to pray at the mosque on Friday, Israeli police have installed metal detectors at several entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City. 

Over the past week, four Israelis have been killed along with at least 13 Palestinians, four of them after alleged attacks on Israelis, and six in Gaza on Friday.

According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, more than 1,600 Palestinians have been injured since October 3.

Eighty-seven have been injured with live ammunition, and 290 with rubber-coated steel bullets.

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On Monday, Abdel Rahman Abdullah, a 13-year-old from the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, was shot and killed by Israeli forces, prompting further protests and unrest.

On Wednesday, two Palestinian protesters were shot and critically wounded by Israeli soldiers during a protest near the settlement of Beit El.

Footage appeared to show undercover Israeli soldiers dressed as protesters attacking men.

Al-Aqsa tensions

The incidents are the latest in a series of attacks, sparked by tensions over what Palestinians believe is Israeli encroachment of their holiest site in Jerusalem, the al-Aqsa Mosque.

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On Wednesday evening, Netanyahu issued an order banning his ministers from visiting the sacred site.

Jews are prohibited from visiting the site, they call the Temple Mount, by Israel’s rabbinate, but hard-liners have challenged the restriction.

Their visits to the al-Aqsa compound happen under heavy police protection and are seen as provocative by Palestinians.

Palestinian worshippers fear the visits are the first stage in an eventual plan to partition the site.

At least 24 Palestinians have been wounded by live fire in the West Bank [EPA]
At least 24 Palestinians have been wounded by live fire in the West Bank [EPA]
Source: Al Jazeera