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2 Knife-Wielding Palestinians Killed by Israeli Troops

Israeli security forces killed a Palestinian youth on Saturday as he tried to attack them with a knife at a checkpoint in the Jerusalem area, police said.

The incident occurred at around midnight near the A-Zayyim checkpoint on the outskirts of East Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank, land Israel captured in a 1967 war that Palestinians seek for a state.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said 17-year-old Ali Abu Ghannam first tried to slash paramilitary Israeli border police with a cleaver at another checkpoint nearby, and then fled with troops giving chase and firing warning shots in the air.

Reaching A-Zayyim checkpoint, Abu Ghannam drew a second knife and ran toward security guards there. They shot him when he ignored their warnings to stop, Samri said.

Abu Ghannam’s family rejected the Israeli account of the incident. One relative, Mohammed Abu Ghannam, said he did not believe the boy had been armed and that he was on his way back from a friend’s party when he was killed.

The family was refusing to receive the body, Mohammed Abu Ghannam said, because Israeli authorities had ordered a limit on the number of people allowed at the burial — a measure often imposed by Israel at the funerals of Palestinian militants in Jerusalem.

Stone-throwing Palestinian protesters faced off with Israeli riot police in East Jerusalem later on Saturday, Samri said, adding that one policeman was lightly injured.

The official Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted President Mahmoud Abbas’s office saying Abu Ghannam’s killing “emphasized the ugliness of the occupation and its crimes against the defenseless Palestinian people under baseless and incorrect pretexts.”

Violence in the Jerusalem area has flared up intermittently since Israelis killed a Palestinian youth in revenge for the killings of three kidnapped Israeli teenagers last year, just before a 50-day July-August Gaza war.

Israeli tanks fired at Gaza on Friday after Israel said a rocket was fired from the Hamas Islamist dominated territory during Independence Day celebrations a day earlier. There were no casualties in those incidents.

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