Two Palestinian gunmen carried out two shootings in Jerusalem before police shot and killed them, Israeli police said Wednesday, shortly before US Vice President Joe Biden met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the city. A Palestinian man was seriously injured in the shootout.
The incident began when passengers on an Israeli bus spotted the two gunmen on the street and heard shots fired, said police spokeswoman Luba Samri. No injuries were reported. A motorist responded by shooting toward the suspects, who fled by car.
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Police began searching for the gunmen’s vehicle. When a policeman approached a car that matched the description, the gunmen raised their weapons at the officer and he fired at them. Other police units on the scene shot at the suspects, killing them, Samri said. The shootout took place on a main road alongside Jerusalem’s light rail train tracks and close to the New Gate of Jerusalem’s Old City.
A Palestinian civilian at the scene was shot in the head and is in a serious but stable condition, an Israeli hospital said. Police are investigating whether he was shot by the gunmen or by police.
Police identified the two gunmen as Palestinians, both about 20 years old, from the Jerusalem area.
In the West Bank on Wednesday, a Palestinian with a knife attempted to stab Israeli soldiers at a checkpoint, and soldiers shot and killed him, the Israeli military said.
The two incidents follow a rash of Palestinian assaults on Tuesday, including a stabbing spree that killed an American student near where Vice President Joe Biden was meeting with Israel’s former president.
Biden is in Israel for a two-day visit as part of a regional tour of the Mideast. He is meeting both Israeli and Palestinian leaders and there have been speculations he would try to revive the moribund Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
A wave of near-daily Palestinian assaults on Israeli civilians and security forces erupted in mid-September and shows no sign of abating. The bloodshed — mainly stabbings but also shootings and car-ramming attacks — has killed 28 Israelis. During the same time, at least 179 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Most of the Palestinians have been identified by Israel as attackers, while the rest were killed in clashes with security forces.
Palestinians say the violence stems from frustration at nearly five decades of Israeli rule over the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel says the violence is fueled by a campaign of Palestinian incitement compounded on social media sites that glorify and encourage attacks.