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Israeli army lifts blockade of West Bank town

After 3 men from Qabatiya killed an Israeli policewoman on Wednesday, access to the town was cut off
A Palestinian youth was arrested by Israeli police in Qabatiya on 4 February (AFP)

The Israeli army on Saturday said it was lifting a blockade imposed on the West Bank town of Qabatiya, from where Palestinians carried out a Jerusalem attack that killed a policewoman.

"Based on an assessment of the situation, it was decided to lift the blockade of Qabatiya," a military spokeswoman said.

Three men from Qabatiya, near Jenin, on Wednesday attacked police with guns and knives outside Jerusalem's Old City, killing a female officer and wounding another before being shot dead.

Following the attack, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met top security officials, who decided to bolster forces in the northern West Bank.

The army also cut access to the northern West Bank town of 15,000 people and began a security sweep of the area.

It arrested 10 people, relatives and acquaintances of the three young people, believed to be 19 to 20 years old, who killed the Israeli border policewoman.

During the operation, the army also measured up the houses of the assailants for later demolition, a common practice after deadly attacks on Israelis.

There were also clashes between soldiers and residents during the sweep of Qabatiya.

Several people from the town, which was turbulent during the first and second intifadas, have been killed in the violence that has rocked the Palestinian Territories and Israel for four months.

Meanwhile, an Israeli woman was stabbed and wounded in a majority-Bedouin town in the south on Saturday by an attacker who fled the scene, a police spokeswoman said.

The woman was stabbed at a market in Rahat. The spokeswoman said the attack was "apparently committed for nationalistic reasons," but was unable to specify whether the attacker was Bedouin or Palestinian.

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