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Palestinian militants deny IS group claim of Jerusalem attack

Thomas Coex, AFP | Israeli security forces and an ambulance at the scene of an attack outside Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City on June 16, 2017.

Palestinian militant groups including Hamas have denied a claim by the Islamic State (IS) group that three Palestinian men who killed an Israeli policewoman in Jerusalem were members of the jihadist outfit.


The IS group took responsibility for the knife and gun attack on Friday, in which the Israeli police officer was killed and another was wounded, according to the group's Amaq news agency.

The SITE intelligence monitoring group said it was the first time the IS group had claimed responsibility for an attack in Israeli-controlled territory.

But Israeli officials said Saturday that no connection had been found between the three attackers, all of whom were shot dead by police at the scene, and any established terror organisation.

"It was a local cell. At this stage no indication has been found it was directed by terrorist organisations nor has any connection to any organisation been found," police spokeswoman Luba Simri said.

Earlier a senior official from Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, and the People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said the three attackers were their own members.

"The three hero martyrs who executed the Jerusalem operation have no connection to Daesh, they are affiliated with the PFLP and Hamas," Hamas' Izzat El-Reshiq wrote on Twitter, using an Arabic acronym to refer to the IS group.

The PFLP published a separate statement in which it identified two of the three attackers as members. "The media office of the PFLP armed wing mourns two of its hero comrades, two freed prisoners," it said.

Simultaneous attacks

Israeli police said on Friday all the assailants were from Palestinian cities in the occupied West Bank. Two of the attackers, both from Ramallah, were between the ages of 18 and 19 and the third was a 30-year-old from Hebron, police spokeswoman Luba Simri said.

The assaults took place simultaneously in two areas near the Damascus gate of Jerusalem's walled old city.

Two Palestinians were shot dead after opening fire at and trying to stab a group of Israeli police officers at one scene, police said. At the other, a Palestinian fatally stabbed a border policewoman before being shot dead by police.

A wave of Palestinian street attacks began in October 2015 but has since slowed. Israel blames the violence on incitement by the Palestinian leadership.

The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, denies that and says assailants have acted out of desperation over Israeli occupation of land sought by Palestinians for a state.

US-brokered peace talks between the sides broke down in 2014. Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.


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