Palestinian militants deny IS claim that they were behind Israel attack
Israeli security forces raid the West Bank village of Deir Abu Mash'al near Ramallah, Saturday, June 17, 2017. Israel security forces raided the village a day after an attack in Jerusalem killed a police officer. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi).
The Associated Press
Published Saturday, June 17, 2017 8:11AM EDT
RAMALLAH, Palestinian Territory -- Palestinian militants denied an Islamic State claim Saturday that it was behind a deadly attack against Israel, saying it was their people who killed a female police officer on duty near Jerusalem's Old City.
IS issued a statement taking responsibility for the stabbing and shooting attacks Friday evening. If true, it would mark the first direct IS action against Israel and the group warned on its affiliate news agency it "will not be the last."
"Let the Jews expect the demise of their entity at the hands of the Caliphate soldiers," it said, calling the attack "revenge for God's religion and for the violated sanctities of Muslims."
However, the Hamas and People's Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant groups quickly retorted that the three attackers who were killed were their members and accused IS of trying to undermine their battle.
Meanwhile, Israeli military officials said they believed Friday night's attacks were carried out by local individuals without a formal link to any group.
The three men were armed with an automatic weapon and knives and carried out near simultaneous attacks at two locations. Police Staff Sgt. Hadas Malka, 23, was stabbed to death.
"The attack was carried out by three Palestinians, two PFLP members and a Hamas member," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. IS "claims that it carried out the attack are meant to shuffle the cards."
The PFLP said its two attackers were relatives who were both former prisoners in Israeli jails.
It was the latest bloodshed in a wave of Palestinian attacks on civilians and soldiers that erupted in 2015. At times the attacks were daily occurrences, but they have relatively subsided in recent months. However, there have been a string of recent attacks near the Old City.
Since September 2015, Palestinian assailants have killed 43 Israelis, two visiting Americans and a British student, mainly in stabbing, shooting and vehicular attacks. In that time, some 250 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire. Israel identified most of them as attackers.
Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders compounded on social media sites that glorify violence and encourage attacks.
Palestinians say it stems from anger over decades of Israeli rule in territories they claim for their future state.