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Israeli military says Palestinian teenager killed after trying to stab soldier

Israeli military says Palestinian teenager killed after trying to stab soldier
An Israeli policeman secures evidence at the scene of what the Israeli army said was an attempted stabbing attack by a Palestinian teenager outside the West Bank village of Bani Naim on Sept. 20, 2016. (Abed Al Hashlamoun / European Pressphoto Agency)

Israeli troops shot and killed a Palestinian teenager in the West Bank early Tuesday after he tried to stab a soldier, the latest in a recent surge in attacks, officials said.

Troops opened fire because the 16-year-old posed an "immediate threat" to a soldier stationed at a checkpoint set up at the entrance to the Bani Naim village in the southern West Bank, officials said.

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The Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa identified the youth as Issa Tarayreh, a resident of the village.

Since Friday, Israeli security forces have reported at least nine knifing and car ramming attacks on targets in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Some six Palestinians and a Jordanian citizen have been killed in the violence, and several Israelis have been injured, including a 38-year-old border policewoman stabbed Monday morning outside Jerusalem's Old City.

The surge in violence comes two weeks before the start of holidays marking the Jewish new year. Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan told Israel's Army Radio that security forces have been bracing for an escalation, anticipating that the Jewish holidays might inspire a wave of lone wolf violence like the string of stabbings, car attacks, and shootings that started during the same period last year.

"We've seen a rise in incitement on social networks and by the Palestinian Authority,'' Erdan said in an interview. "There was an expectation that it could prompt individuals to carry out attacks."

The killing of the Palestinian teen came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew to New York for a meeting with President Obama and to address the United Nations General Assembly. Before departing, Netanyahu praised Israeli soldiers and police officers for an "uncompromising struggle against brutal terrorism" and called on the international community to support Israel.

The wave of daily violence that started a year ago left more than 200 Palestinians and several dozen Israelis dead, though in the spring and summer the incidents subsided substantially.  A Palestinian public opinion survey last June found support for knife attacks on the decline and that about half of respondents believed that the wave of violence was over.

Much of the violence has taken place in and around the West Bank city of Hebron – prompting the Israeli army to send reinforcements to the region and impose a clampdown on population centers.

Israeli soldiers on Sunday started barring Palestinians between the ages of 15 and 30 from leaving Bani Naim, about four miles east of Hebron, after a pair of youths from the village on Friday drove their car into a bus stop outside the settlement of Kiryat Arba. In June, a teenager from the same village killed a 13-year-old Israeli girl from Kiryat Arba while she was sleeping in her bed.

After a knife attack Monday morning at one of the entrances to Jerusalem's Old City that wounded two border policeman, Israeli police ordered Arab merchants in East Jerusalem to close their shops.

Palestinians view the Israeli accounts of the incidents as exaggerated to justify the use of deadly force, said Fadi Abu Sada, a West Bank reporter for the Arabic daily Al Quds al Arabi.

"Palestinians think that Israelis want this Palestinian uprising to continue for political reasons,'' Abu Sada said, "to keep saying that Palestinians are terrorists, and that there is no partner for peace, and to relieve international pressure over expansion of Israeli settlements.''

Mitnick is a special correspondent.

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