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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

By Jeffrey Heller

JERUSALEM (Reuters) — Israel bristled on Thursday at U.S. suggestions it may have used excessive force to confront Palestinian stabbings, and also published hospital images it said refuted Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s allegation a teen suspect had been “executed”.>

Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon accused Washington of “misreading” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, saying shooting knife-wielding Palestinians was self-defense. Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the U.S. remarks “foolish”.

With U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry due to travel to the Middle East soon to try to calm the violence, Israeli officials said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu swiftly ordered cabinet ministers to say no more publicly about the latest acrimony in a long-troubled relationship with the Obama administration.

Thirty-two Palestinians and seven Israelis have been killed in the past two weeks of bloodshed. The Palestinian dead include 10 knife-wielding assailants, police said, as well as children and protesters shot in violent demonstrations.

The violence has been triggered in part by Palestinians’ anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is Islam’s holiest site outside Saudi Arabia and is also revered by Jews as the location of two destroyed biblical Jewish temples.

At a daily press briefing on Wednesday, U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby said Israel, which has set up roadblocks in Palestinian neighborhoods of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem to try to stem attacks, has a right and responsibility to protect its citizens.

He added: “Now, we have seen some – I wouldn’t call the checkpoints this – but we’ve certainly seen some reports of what many would consider excessive use of force.

“Obviously, we don’t like to see that, and we want to see restrictions that are elevated in this time of violence to be as temporary as possible if they have to be enacted,” Kirby said, without citing specific incidents.

Asked on Army Radio about the remarks, Yaalon said: “Are we exercising excessive force? If someone wields a knife and they kill him, is that excessive force? What are we talking about?”


Kirby’s comments touched a nerve in Israel, especially after allegations by Abbas, in a televised speech in Arabic on Wednesday, that Israeli forces were “executing our sons in cold blood, as they did with this child, Ahmed Manasra, and other children in Jerusalem and other places in Palestine”.

Many Palestinians were incensed by amateur video that had shown Manasra, 13, lying on the street in Pisgat Zeev, a Jewish settlement on the northern edge of Jerusalem, with blood coming from his head. Israeli police said that he and a cousin stabbed two Israelis there on Monday.

The 15-year-old cousin was shot dead, and Israel said that day that Manasra was alive and taken to hospital after being hit by a car during the attack. On Thursday, after Abbas’s address, Israel’s Government Press Office released a video, without sound, showing a youth it identified as Manasra being spoon-fed in a bed in Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital. A doctor said he could be discharged soon.

Hours after the Israeli roadblocks went up on Wednesday, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded a 70-year-old woman outside Jerusalem’s central bus station before a police officer shot him dead.

Palestinian officials describe the roadblocks as collective punishment.

Prior to the bus station incident, another Palestinian was shot dead after he attempted to stab paramilitary police at an entrance to Jerusalem’s walled Old City, police said.

Israel has deployed 300 soldiers in Jerusalem and throughout the country to try to stop the most serious eruption of Palestinian street attacks since an uprising in 2000-2005.

Many Palestinians are frustrated with the failure of years of peace diplomacy meant to bring them statehood and end Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war.

The powerful Islamist group Hamas, which advocates Israel’s destruction, has been vocal in supporting the current attacks, and it called for “rallies of anger and confrontations” to be held in West Bank cities after Friday Muslim prayers.

(Additional reporting by Dan Williams and Ori Lewis; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

Photo: Thirteen-year-old Ahmed Manasra, a Palestinian from Beit Hanina in northern Jerusalem, sits in his hospital bed at Hadassah hospital in Jerusalem, in this handout picture released from the Israeli Government Press Office (GPO) October 15, 2015. REUTERS/GPO/Handout via Reuters

  • @HawaiianTater

    I’m not saying we should stop supporting Israel altogether but the 3+ billion they get from us every year is BS.

    • rome44

      I do.

  • John Murchison

    I think it’s about time to cut support or at least dial it back. The Israelis have become obtuse and abusive. We are just enabling this conflict to go on and on without resolution.

    • rome44

      Dial back you say? We have already given these people over 100 billion dollars plus who knows how much in military aid. Clearly they have taken advantage of our generosity. I don’t know about you but the attacks of 9/11 are directly due to this support, when Israel attacks the arabs, what those people see is American military hardware being used to kill them. That stupid Bush said on top of the towers rubble “They hate us because of our freedoms” I will take those fictitious words to my grave. No Bush they hate us because when Israel commits it’s atrocities we look the other way. We don’t allow the UN to apply sanctions to Israel that’s why they hate us.

      • John Murchison

        I fully agree with your comment. I suggest ‘dailing’ back on funding as a way to bring the Isrealis to the bargaining table. A dramatic cut off may just serve to make them dig in their heels instead listening.

        • rome44

          Thank you, these people just keep confiscating land, expanding and building. The conditions for Gaza residents are similar to a concentration camp. When Obama suggested they honor the 1967 borders I thought they were about to hang him for saying it. It’s just plain nuts.

          • John Murchison

            Things will never change if we keep enabling them.

  • jeffromac23

    Shooting knife wielding people is a daily occurance in the US. We should be the last country to scold Israel on this. When there are videos of ten police officers and one man with a knife and the police say they were forced to open fire when he lunged at them we should say nothing.
    If our police officers can’t figure out a way to disarm a man outnumbered 10-1 without using deadly force how can we claim Israel is using excessive force.
    I agree that what Israel is doing to Palenstine is awful us trying to lecture them when we do the same thing to our own people we should just shut up and change how we do things.

    • rome44

      This not the same thing though, ours are mostly knife wielding thugs. Theirs is a conflict a war you might say. Maybe you should take a look at the conditions the Israeli’s have created for the Palestinians setting up walls restricting their movements in their own native lands where at one time they moved freely. The Israeli’s keep taking more and more Palestinian lands building more apartments and inviting more outsiders in.
      The Israeli’s have all the armor the Palestinians fight with whatever they can get their hands on but mostly stones.
      For any supporter of the Jewish State please tell me what would we Americans do were we to be in the same position as the Palestinians? Would we just retreat would we act like cowards and accept defeat or fight to expel the invaders by whatever means at our disposal?

      • jeffromac23

        I didn’t say I agreed with Israel if my land was taken area because of some a Biblical stories and the country it was given to treated my people were treated like that I would be upset and fight back.
        But I don’t see how you can call someone having a mental health emergency as a thug just because they are black.
        I can’t remember where the example happened at but the guy had mental problems and his family called police for help and instead of helping they killed the man.
        And there are countless more stories of the police killing someone when they are having a mental problem instead of using non lethal method like a taser.

        • rome44

          Yes, to begin with Arabs don’t buy the biblical stories. They consider their ancestral lands still theirs.
          Tens of thousands of Palestinians were driven from their homes to make room for Jews. Our gov. has been very instrumental in arming Israeli’s to the teeth. But not the Palestinians they are so determined to expel the occupiers that they are willing to be killed using knifes against guns because the Israeli’s continue to take more and more lands.
          I’m sorry my words didn’t convey what I was trying to say. I was not referring to the mentally ill as thugs because they were black. I’d never say a thing like that.
          What I meant by my comparison is people (Americans of any color) use knifes to fight with. The Palestinian youths fight to remove the yoke of suppression by a very oppressive invader.
          Their words not mine.

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