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Israeli police shoot 16yo girl after alleged knife attack in Jerusalem

Israeli police shoot 16yo girl after alleged knife attack in Jerusalem
A 16-year-old Palestinian girl was shot dead by Israeli police after reportedly attempting a knife attack at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem on Sunday.

Israeli border police shot and killed Fatima Afif Abd al-Rahman Hjeiji “in cold blood," according to Palestinian witnesses cited by local news source, Ma'an news agency. The witnesses said the girl did not pose a lethal threat.

Those witness statements were refuted by Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld who said the border police acted in self-defense. 

“The female terrorist approached Border Police officers who were on patrol at Damascus Gate, waved a knife in the air at the officers, and the terrorist was shot and critically injured."

“The area was immediately cordoned off and security heightened as we look into the identity of the terrorist and where she came from," Rosenfeld said.

The girl was reportedly shot with multiple bullets, with Ma’an reporting “some 20 bullets” were fired.

The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the girl as Fatima Abed el-Rahman Hajiji from Qarawat Bani Zeid, north of Ramallah.

A police spokesperson told the Times of Israel that the girl “arrived from Sultan Suleiman Street toward the steps of the Damascus Gate. She approached a police and border guard force stationed in the area. She took out a knife and while screaming ‘Allahu Akhbar’ tried to attack them.”

Eyewitnesses cited by Ma'an, however, claim the contrary.

"One of the soldiers started to shout ‘knife! knife!’ and moments after that, about five soldiers opened fire at her from every direction," Ma'an quote the unnamed eyewitness as saying.

Another witness, sourced by Ma'an, said the girl was first hit in the chest and fell to the ground, “but Israeli soldiers continued to fire at her back."

The incident took place at about 7 p.m, and no officers were injured, police said. Damascus Gate is a main entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City and has been the site of violence between Palestinians and Israeli forces.

According to witnesses cited by the International Middle East Media Center, Hajiji was standing at least 10 meters from soldiers and police, who shouted she had a knife before opening fire.

The girl was reportedly shot with multiple bullets, with Ma’an news agency reporting “some 20 bullets” were fired.

Video footage taken in the aftermath, and photographs from the scene, show a number of bullet wounds on Hajiji’s back, and a number of bullet holes in nearby cars. These embedded images are not from the original source, but have been shared widely online.

According to police, Hajiji was carrying a letter featuring verses from the Koran and was signed, Shahada, or martyr. Police released photographs of the knife but not the letter.

The Palestinian Foreign Ministry condemned the shooting. “During a press conference with the German President in Jerusalem yesterday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke about the "ethics" of the occupation soldiers. The "ethics" which Netanyahu boasts emerged quickly and not far from the residence of the German President,  when the occupation forces executed child Hajji in cold blood,” the ministry said in a statement.

Mourners gathered outside Hajiji’s home on Sunday night.