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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Border policeman killed, 4 hurt in Jerusalem and W. Bank terror attacks.

Last update - 01:25 25/01/2008    
 Policeman killed, 4 hurt in two W. Bank terror attacks 
By Amos Harel, Yuval Azoulay, and Yair Ettinger, Haaretz Correspondents

A Border Policeman was killed and a policewoman was seriously wounded in a terror shooting attack Thursday night as Palestinian gunmen fired toward the Ras Hamis checkpoint near the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem.
Magen David Adom emergency medical services rushed to the scene and attempted to treat the victims. The policeman was pronounced dead at the scene after efforts to resuscitate him were for naught. The policewoman was evacuated to Hadassah Hospital, Ein Karem for treatment.
The Palestinian news agency Maan reported that a previously unknown organization, the Return and Struggle Brigades, had claimed responsibility for the attack. The organization said it was affiliated with Fatah's Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades.

In a separate incident in the Kfar Etzion settlement in the West Bank near Jerusalem, three civilians were hurt after Palestinian militants infiltrated a yeshiva in the community and began stabbing students.
The checkpoint at which the shooting took place served as a pedestrian crossing point between the refugee camp and the Pisgat Ze'ev neighborhood of Jerusalem. At the time of the shooting, the checkpoint was manned by two Border Police officers.
"This is a serious incident and we will do everything in order to capture the killers," Police Commissioner Dudi Cohen said. "The passages are a serious Achilles heel."
According to an initial report on the Kfar Etzion stabbing incident, the two assailants entered the yeshiva building, one armed with a gun and the other with a knife. They were met by a group of students and one counselor who tried to subdue the attackers. A struggle erupted at the scene and one man was moderately hurt while two others suffered light stab wounds.
The counselor shot and killed the two assailants.
Cohen added that there is no connection between the two attacks.
Large military forces under the command of Colonel Nir Salomon arrived on the scene to investigate the incidents. Authorities will try to piece together the sequence of events in order to figure out how two terrorists managed to enter the grounds of the yeshiva. Magen David Adom ambulances were also summoned to the area.
"Israel continues to wage an unending battle against Palestinian terror which is fueled by extremists and rejectionism," David Baker, an Israeli government spokesman, said in response.
Jerusalem District Police chief Aharon Franco announced prior to the attacks late Thursday that, in light of the escalation of hostilities along the Gaza front, security forces have raised the level of alert, particularly in the run-up to Friday prayers on the Temple Mount.
Franco said the circumstances of the shooting attack remain unclear, though he believes that one or more terrorists arrived at the checkpoint and opened fire in the direction of the two Border Policemen. Franco added that one of the policemen's weapons is missing.
The Jerusalem police chief said that the checkpoint is manned round the clock, "as required by a High Court decision in order to enable traffic to move from the Shuafat refugee camp."
Were the decision left to the police, Franco added, the checkpoint would not be manned at night, and pedestrian traffic would be re-routed through the Shuafat checkpoint, which is situated close to 200 meters from the checkpoint where the shooting took place.
According to Franco, the Ras Hamis checkpoint where the shooting occurred is more accomodating, people-friendly, and safer. Franco said dozens of people pass through the checkpoint each day.
"We respect all decisions made by the Supreme Court, and I have no doubt that if we need to change the way in which we man the checkpoints, we will change it," police chief Cohen said.

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