RAMALLAH, West Bank (Reuters) - A 13-year-old Palestinian girl was shot dead on Saturday by an Israeli security guard she tried to stab at a settlement in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Israeli police said.
Hours later, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas came out against Palestinian groups he said were encouraging youth to take part in an almost four-month long surge of violence with Israel which has raised concern of wider escalation a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided.
The fatal incident on Saturday followed two stabbings this week inside settlements carried out by Palestinian teenagers, according to Israeli authorities.
“There are people who want them to go, this is not acceptable. This is a generation we want to build. They send him (youths) there to be wounded or killed,” Abbas told reporters in Ramallah.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said initial investigations showed the teenager killed on Saturday “had fought with her family and left her home with a knife and intending to die”.
Holding a knife, she ran toward the security guard at the entrance to Anatot settlement and he opened fire on her, Samri said. Her father arrived at the scene shortly after the incident and was arrested, she added.
Eight seconds of security camera footage aired on Israeli television showed the armed guard running through the settlement gate and a young woman running after him with an object, possibly a knife, in her hand.
The family of the teenager, Ruqayya Abu Eid, confirmed her death. Her mother, Reeda Abu Eid, said there had been no trouble before her daughter left the family home, a tent in the Palestinian village Anata.
“Her father works in a farm and Ruqayya used to go to him. I didn’t see her when she left so I expected she had gone to her father,” she said. “Ruqayya is a small girl, how could she stab someone?”
Since the start of October, Israeli forces have killed at least 149 Palestinians, 95 of them assailants according to authorities. Most of the others have died in violent protests. Almost daily stabbings, shootings and car-ramming attacks by Palestinians have killed 25 Israelis and one U.S. citizen.
Many of the Palestinian assailants have been teenagers.
On Sunday, an Israeli mother of six was stabbed to death at her home in a West Bank settlement and a 15-year-old Palestinian was arrested for the attack. On Monday, Israeli troops shot and wounded a 17-year-old Palestinian who had stabbed and wounded a pregnant Israeli woman in a settlement.
The bloodshed has been fuelled by various factors including frustration over the 2014 collapse of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and the growth of Jewish settlements on land Palestinians seek for an independent state.
Palestinian leaders have said that with no breakthrough on the horizon, desperate youngsters see no future ahead. Israel says young Palestinians are being incited to violence by their leaders, including Abbas, and Islamist groups.
Abbas has come under fierce criticism from rivals, including Islamist Hamas which calls for Israel’s destruction, for ongoing security coordination with Israel in cracking down on militant cells.
He said those actions were meant to prevent escalation. “I won’t allow anyone to drag me into a battle not of my choice, I do not want a military battle,” Abbas said.
Reporting by Maayan Lubell and Ali Sawafta; Writing by Maayan Lubell; Editing by Mark Heinrich and Sandra Maler