Skip to main content

2 Israelis and one Palestinian killed in Jerusalem's Old City

Tensions have soared since settlers raided al-Aqsa mosque in mid-September
Israeli police shot dead a Palestinian wielding a knife and a gun after he attacked four Israelis, killing two of them (AFP)

A Palestinian said to be a militant killed two people and wounded two others, including a child,  in a knife and gun attack in Jerusalem on Saturday, in a new escalation of violence.

The attack in the Old City came with Israeli security forces on alert after recent clashes at the city's flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound and the murder in the West Bank of a Jewish settler couple in front of their young children.

A two-year-old child was slightly injured in the leg and taken to hospital, and a woman was in serious condition, rescue services said. Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said it appeared the child had been shot.

The attacker reportedly took a gun from one of his victims and fired at police when they responded after being alerted, before he was shot dead.

Police named him as Mohannad Shafiq Halani, aged 19, from a town near Ramallah in the West Bank.

The militant group Islamic Jihad said he was one of its members, but did not claim responsibility for the attack.

Photos circulated online show Muhannad Halani, 19, who stabbed two Israeli settlers (Twitter)

In the past few days, Halani posted increasingly political statements on his facebook.

On 2 October, he wrote on his Facebook wall that the Third Intifada has already begun: "I can say that the third intifada began. What is happening at Aqsa is what happening to our mothers and sisters. I don’t think that there is any nation that accepts humiliation. The people are resisting. How long will this humiliation and shame continue?"

On 1 October, he posted a picture of a Palestinian woman in the grips of Israeli police. It read: "Observe: Look deeply at the picture and think if it was your mother or sister. Think what you feel right now"

On the previous day before he posted that picture, he wrote a letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: "Sorry, President. We don’t know East or West Jerusalem. We know that there is one Jerusalem. Sorry president, but what happens to the women in Aqsa will not be stopped by the peaceful ways. Protecting Aqsa and the women of Aqsa is our dignity and legal right."

In a video posted online, Alhalabi paid solace to the father of 21-year-old Diyaa Talamahduring - who was killed by the Israeli army in Hebron on 22 September - at his funeral.

A 22-year-old woman was also seriously wounded in the attack, involving a knife and a gun, and a two-year-old child was lightly injured.

The identities and nationalities of the victims have not yet been provided. 

Tensions have soared since settlers and security forces raided al-Aqsa mosque a few weeks ago. In the West Bank, a settler couple were shot dead in their car in front of their four children on Thursday evening.

On channel 2, Israel's main broadcast network, the army said it would demolish the home of Muhannad's family as punishment.

Last month over the Jewish New Year holiday, or Rosh Hashanah, police raided the compound to stop what they said were plans by Palestinian youths to disrupt visits to the site.

Clashes occurred over three consecutive days between rioters and police, provoking international calls for calm at the highly sensitive site.

Israel seized east Jerusalem, where al-Aqsa is located, in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.