Israeli Soldiers Kill Jewish Man Mistaken for ‘Terrorist’

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
October 22, 2015 Updated: October 22, 2015

JERUSALEM—An Israeli soldier shot and killed a Jewish man he suspected was a Palestinian “terrorist” in Jerusalem, police said Thursday, in a reflection of the jittery mood that has gripped Israelis amid a spate of near-daily Palestinian stabbing attacks.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said soldiers deployed in Jerusalem to reinforce police demanded late Wednesday that the man show them his ID. The man refused, scuffled with the soldiers and then attempted to seize one of their weapons. One soldier shot the man, who later died of his wounds, Rosenfeld said.

“The soldiers had high suspicions that he was a terrorist,” he said. Israeli media said the man had asked for the soldiers’ IDs first, but Rosenfeld was not able to confirm that detail. He said the incident is under investigation.

The Palestinian attacks have Israelis on edge. When an Arab citizen of Israel opened fire at a bus station in southern Israel on Sunday, killing an Israeli soldier and wounding several people, a private security guard shot an Eritrean migrant he thought was an attacker. As the Eritrean lay on the ground, a mob of people cursed him, kicked him and hit him with objects. He later died of his wounds. Police said the autopsy showed the man died from gunshot wounds and that four suspects would appear in court Thursday over the beating.

“This is not the Wild West,” Israeli opposition legislator Tzipi Livni told Israeli Army Radio. “The suspicion there is now, the fear and the hate lead to brutal and very difficult results.”

Israelis have scrambled to purchase pepper spray for self-defense and some government officials have called for citizens to carry firearms for protection. Israel has beefed up security, sending hundreds of soldiers to back up thousands of police officers. Police have erected concrete barriers and checkpoints at the entrance to Arab areas of east Jerusalem, where many of the attackers are from.

The violence has continued unabated. Police say two Palestinians stabbed an Israeli at a bus stop on Thursday after they tried to board a bus ferrying children to school. Police shot the two men, one of whom later died while the other was seriously wounded. Police said the Israeli man was moderately wounded.

Ten Israelis have been killed over the last month, mainly in stabbing attacks. On the Palestinian side, 48 people have been killed, 27 of them identified by Israel as attackers, the others killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

The violence erupted a month ago, fueled by rumors that Israel was plotting to take over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site revered by both Jews and Muslims. The violence was initially confined to traditionally Arab east Jerusalem but soon spread deep into Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinians say the violence is rooted in frustration at decades of living under Israeli occupation, while Israel accuses Palestinian leaders of inciting the unrest.

Diplomatic efforts have kicked off in a bid to quell the violence. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Israeli and Palestinian leaders during a visit to the region this week and then offered the Security Council a grim assessment of prospects for defusing the violence.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu traveled to Germany on Wednesday, where he met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and is set to meet U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. Kerry is scheduled to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Jordan this weekend.