Israeli forces have allegedly killed two Palestinian teenagers in the occupied West Bank, in a further sign of escalation of the conflict in the tormented region.
Abdelrahman Obeidallah, a 13-year-old from Aida refugee camp, was shot in the chest by Israeli security forces during clashes in northern Bethlehem. He was declared dead at the Abdel Rahman Shadi hospital, according to local sources. An Israeli military spokeswoman said the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) was investigating the matter. Another Palestinian protester was wounded.
Earlier, Huzeifa Othman Suleiman, 18, was shot dead by IDF troops in the West Bank's city of Tulkarem, according to Palestinian medical sources. The IDF said in a statement that during "a violent riot of hundreds of Palestinians affiliated with Hamas", Palestinians hurled rocks and Molotov cocktails at soldiers, who responded with "non-lethal" fire. The IDF said hits were confirmed and that it was investigating reports of a Palestinian killed in the fighting.
The killings come as Israel banned Palestinians from entering the Old City of Jerusalem. It is the first time Israel has barred Palestinians from visiting the most sacred holy sites since it seized the area in the 1967 Six-Day War. In this case, the ban will last 48 hours and involve Palestinians who do not live there,
On 3 October, Muhannad Halabi attacked a family as they walked in Jerusalem's Old City killing the father, seriously wounding the mother and injuring their two-year-old toddler before stabbing another Israeli man to death. The Palestinian militant group claimed responsibility for the assault. "Halabi, 19, is a member of Islamic Jihad," the group told AFP, saying it was in response to Israeli "terrorist crimes" against Palestinians.
Hours before the attack, the teenager wrote on Facebook: "What's happening to our holy places? What's happening to our mothers and sisters in the Al-Aqsa mosque? We are not the people who accept humiliation. Our people will revolt."
On 4 October, another Palestinian teenager stabbed and wounded a 15-year-old Israeli in Jerusalem before being shot dead by an Israeli officer. Fadi Alloun, 19, wrote on Facebook a day before the attack: "Either martyrdom or victory."
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to launch a "harsh offensive" to respond to rising violence in Jerusalem's Holy City, which include "fast tracking the razing of terrorists home".
Israeli media have warned a "Third Intifada" is on the horizon, referring to Palestinian uprisings in the 1980s and early 2000s. Israel's leading newspaper commentator, Nahum Barnea, wrote in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper: "Not calling it by name allows the political and military establishment to evade, repress, shirk responsibility."