JERUSALEM: A 13-year-old Palestinian girl tried to stab an Israeli guard at a West Bank settlement Saturday and was shot dead, the latest bloodshed in a months-long wave of attacks, police said.
Many of the attackers have been disturbingly young and the killing of several of them by Israeli security forces has prompted questions at home and abroad.
Police said Roqaya Abu-Eid was feeling suicidal after a fight with her family when she ran from her home in the West Bank village of Anata clutching a kitchen knife and rushed at a private security guard at nearby Anatot settlement.
“She had a knife and intended to die,” police spokeswoman Luba Samri said in a statement.
“The guard opened fire, gravely wounding her and medics pronounced her dead shortly afterwards.”
Police said her father, who had been searching the area for her, arrived too late at the scene of the attack.
They said he was questioned to see if he knew in advance of her intentions but was later released.
Palestinian officials said Israel returned her body for burial by her family.
Israeli media said she was to be buried on Sunday in the southern West Bank village of Yatta, where the family is originally from.
A total of 156 Palestinians and 24 Israelis have been killed in three months of attacks, according to an AFP count.
Most of the Palestinians killed were carrying out attacks and many of the assailants have been young people, including teenagers.
Others her age have died in clashes with the army and police in the West Bank but she is thought to be the youngest killed during an attack.
In November, police in Jerusalem shot dead a 16-year-old Palestinian and seriously wounded her 14-year-old friend after the two girls stabbed and lightly wounded an elderly man in a market.
The same month in the east Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Zeev, two Palestinian boys aged 12 and 14 attacked a security guard with knives, police said.
The younger of the boys, both from Jerusalem’s Shuafat refugee camp, was shot and seriously wounded and the other was arrested.
Murad Ideis, 15, who allegedly stabbed to death a 38-year-old Israeli nurse and mother of six at her house in a West Bank settlement last Sunday, was later arrested in a raid on his family home.
Arab Israeli MP Essawi Frej of the opposition Meretz party said in a statement that Abu-Eid could have been restrained rather than killed.
“Even if she had a knife, it should have been possible to arrest a girl of that age,” he said.
He referred to Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom, who enraged Israel when she called for “thorough and credible investigations” into the deaths of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces in the wave of violence since October 1.
She has also called on Israel to halt what she called “extrajudicial executions” in response to attacks by knife-wielding Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dismissed her remarks as “stupid” and “immoral”, but Frej said she had a valid point.
“Netanyahu should examine what’s happening in his country and how children are being killed without a trial,” he wrote.