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Israel authorizes sealing off parts of Jerusalem

In the latest incident, a Palestinian was shot by Israeli police over an alleged stabbing attempt at an entrance to Jerusalem's Old City

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Israeli policemen shot a Palestinian teen at an entrance to Jerusalem's walled Old City for reportedly attempting to stab paramilitary police, Al Arabiya’s correspondent reported Wednesday.

The Palestinian was killed when Israeli police fired 15 gunshots after they suspected he would attack border police outside Jerusalem's Damascus Gate Plaza, the correspondent said.

Television footage showed the Palestinian clad in military-style camouflage clothing, running with a knife in his hand. Shots are then heard and in other video he appears to be shot again when lying on the ground before an officer calls on his comrades to halt fire.

In an another incident, Israeli police spokeswoman Luba Samri said a Palestinian stabbed and moderately wounded a 70-year-old woman outside Jerusalem's central bus station, at the entrance to the city, before an officer shot him dead.

In a speech broadcast on official Palestinian television, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said Wednesday he favors "peaceful, popular resistance" against Israeli occupation.

Abbas spoke of the Palestinian people's "right to defend ourselves" and "pursue our national struggle".

On Wednesday, Israel began setting up checkpoints in Palestinian areas of East Jerusalem.

Samri said checkpoints were being set up at “the exits of Palestinian villages and neighborhoods in east Jerusalem,” where most of the recent attackers have come from.

Palestinian officials condemned the security measures - the most serious clampdown in the Jerusalem area since a Palestinian uprising a decade ago - as collective punishment.

Israel's security cabinet had authorised the crackdown hours earlier in an overnight session after Palestinians armed with knives and a gun killed three Israelis and wounded several others on Tuesday.

Seven Israelis and 31 Palestinians, including assailants, children and protesters in violent anti-Israeli demonstrations, have been killed in two weeks of bloodshed.

The violence has been partly triggered by Palestinians' anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound, also revered by Jews as the site of two destroyed Jewish temples.

There is also deep-seated frustration with the failure of years of peace efforts to achieve Palestinian statehood and end Israeli settlement-building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The White House said on Wednesday that it has "deep concerns" about violence in Israel and condemns the loss of any innocent life, whether it be Israeli and Palestinian.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest said the United States is in regular contact with Israeli and Palestinian officials about the escalating violence.

The State Department said the United States considers the Oct. 9 attack on four Arab men by a Jewish assailant in the Israeli city of Dimona an "act of terrorism."

State Department spokesman John Kirby said the department had reviewed the incident and concluded it was terrorism. The attack was denounced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and described by one of his ministers as "terrorism."

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said on Tuesday he plans to travel to the Middle East to try to calm violence between Palestinians and Israelis and move the situation “away from this precipice.”

The trip would mark Kerry’s most direct efforts to broker peace between the two sides since talks led by the United States failed last year. Israel and the Palestinian territories are experiencing their worst unrest in years.

“I will go there soon, at some point appropriately, and try to work to reengage and see if we can’t move that away from this precipice,” Kerry told an audience at an event sponsored by Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.

(with AFP and Reuters)