Israeli soldier stabbed to death by Palestinian teenager
Nationalistic attack occurred on a bus when it stopped at a station in Afula
An Israeli policeman surveys the scene of a stabbing incident on a bus in the northern Israeli town of Afula. Photograph: Avishag Shar-Yashuv/Reuters.
The soldier was stabbed multiple times in the neck and upper body on a Tel Aviv-bound bus as it stopped in the northern Israeli town of Afula.
The attacker, a 16-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank town of Jenin who was working in Israel illegally, was arrested, police said.
The attack comes at a sensitive time as Israelis and Palestinians resumed peace talks in late July, after a nearly five-year break. The sides have set an April target date for reaching an agreement.
But an increase in deadly violence between Israelis and Palestinians in the West Bank recently is undermining the efforts to make progress in the faltering negotiations. However attacks inside Israel itself have been rare.
As part of the agreement to restart the peace talks, Israel recently released 26 long-serving Palestinian prisoners who had been convicted of killing Israelis.
Almagor, an Israeli group representing victims of the Palestinian attacks, said the stabbing shows Israel was wrong to release the prisoners because it would encourage Palestinians to believe that despite attacks they will be released someday.
The attack also came a day after Israel flip-flopped over the announcement of plans for new West Bank settlement construction — a key stumbling point in the peace talks.
Israel initially said it would explore the potential construction of thousands of new homes, but the decision was later reversed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said it had created “unnecessary confrontation” with the international community.
The issue of settlement construction has been at the heart of the standstill in peace efforts in recent years and the Palestinians say it remains a major obstacle in the newly restarted talks.
The Palestinians claim the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories captured by Israel in 1967, for an independent state. They say Israeli settlement construction on occupied lands is a sign of bad faith. More than 500,000 Israelis now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.