Israeli forces have shot dead at least two Palestinians and wounded another after two separate attacks that killed an Israeli border policewoman outside the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, officials said.
The Palestinian health ministry initially said it had been officially informed that three Palestinians were killed in Friday’s simultaneous attacks in locations near Damascus Gate. It later issued a correction, saying that two had been killed and one wounded.
In the first incident, a 23-year-old Israeli female officer was stabbed by one attacker and taken to hospital in critical condition, police said. The officer, identified as Hadas Malka, later succumbed to her wounds.
In the other incident, two attackers armed with a knife and a gun were shot by an Israeli police officer.
At least two bystanders were also reportedly hurt.
Palestinian authorities said two of the men killed were 18-year-olds from Deir Abu Mishal, near Ramallah. A third suspect, a 30-year-old man from Hebron, was wounded and not killed, as had initially been reported, they said.
“The idea that this was some kind of a coordinated event, potentially, with multiple attackers is less frequent,” Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from occupied East Jerusalem, said.
“We haven’t seen something like this for a few months at least,” he added.
Pandemonium broke out shortly after Friday’s attacks as police pushed hundreds of people out of the Old City to clear the scene.
Tens of thousands of Palestinians from the occupied West Bank were given permits by Israeli authorities to enter occupied East Jerusalem on Friday for Ramadan prayers.
Since October 2015, Palestinian assailants have killed 42 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, some 250 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.
Most of the Palestinians killed were allegedly carrying out knife, gun or car-ramming attacks, Israeli authorities say.
Others were shot dead during protests or clashes, while some were killed in Israeli air strikes on the besieged Gaza Strip.
Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders.
Palestinians say it stems from anger over decades of Israeli occupation in territory they claim for their state.
Since October 2015, a number of local and international human rights groups have raised concerns that Israeli security forces have used excessive force when confronting Palestinians who had carried out attacks or been suspected of doing so.
The Israeli police relaxed its open-fire regulations in December 2015, permitting officers to open fire with live ammunition on those throwing stones or firebombs as an initial option, without having to use non-lethal weapons first.