JERUSALEM: A Palestinian teenager, whose family is battling eviction by Jewish settlers in annexed East Jerusalem, was arrested on Wednesday on suspicion of stabbing a woman settler, Israeli police and a monitoring group said.
The 14-year-old suspect was tracked down to a school in the flashpoint Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood after a massive manhunt using police helicopters as well as ground units.
Israeli emergency services identified the stabbing victim as Moria Cohen, 26, a Jewish resident of the neighborhood, who was taking her children to kindergarten at the time of the attack.
Cohen was admitted to Hadassah Hospital Mount Scopus with a 30-cm-long knife in her back, said director of general surgery Haggi Mazeh. He described her condition as “mild” and the hospital discharged her later on Wednesday.
Israeli police said they had also arrested “a number” of women who had surrounded the suspect at the time of her arrest.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett praised “the security forces for the swift capture of the terrorist” and wished “a speedy recovery to the victim.”
Land rights tensions in Sheikh Jarrah and other contested East Jerusalem neighborhoods exploded in May, with Palestinians repeatedly clashing with Israeli security forces in unrest that helped fuel 11 days of deadly fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza.
Hagit Ofran of the Peace Now anti-settlement group that tracks East Jerusalem land rights cases said that the suspect belongs to one of at least seven families in Sheikh Jarrah facing eviction proceedings.
“Their case is awaiting a decision at the Supreme Court,” Ofran said.
The victim’s husband Dvir told reporters the couple lived in Sheikh Jarrah with their children and intended to stay despite the attack. “We will keep living there and to settle, this is our calling,” he said.
Sheikh Jarrah is one of a number of east neighborhoods where Jewish settlers have lodged claims to homes where Palestinians live, saying the properties belonged to Jews before Israel’s 1948 war for independence.
Palestinians have resisted the claims, saying the land was allocated to them when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian administration between 1948 and 1967. The suspect’s grandfather said the family was “in shock” following reports of the stabbing.
Speaking to AFP in June, he said his family and neighbors in Sheikh Jarrah were living under constant fear of eviction.
“I’m scared that they’ll throw us out into the street — that they’ll kick out the whole neighborhood,” he said.
The stabbing follows a string of “lone wolf” attacks in recent weeks by individuals who do not appear to have had ties to established militant groups.
On Monday, a Palestinian teen rammed his car into an Israeli checkpoint in the West Bank. A security guard shot him dead, Israeli authorities said.
On Saturday, a Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli civilian and attempted to attack police near the Old City.
Officers shot the assailant and appeared to continue firing after he lay on the ground incapacitated.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.
The Palestinians claim the city’s eastern sector as capital of their future state.