A Palestinian youth has stabbed and wounded two Israeli teenagers on their way to the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City during a Jewish festival, officials said.
Police said in a statement they had arrested the 19-year-old Palestinian on suspicion of attacking the two 17-year-old Israelis from behind. The pair were taken to hospital with moderate wounds to their torsos, Israel’s emergency medical service Magen David Adom said. Police said they used footage from surveillance cameras to track the suspect as he returned home,and found the knife thought to have been used in the early morning attack nearby.
Tensions have been running high in and around Jerusalem since the killings of Israeli and Palestinian captives in tit-for-tat kidnappings by Palestinian militants and Jewish extremists last summer. The stabbing came as Jews celebrated the holiday of Shavuot, or Pentecost, which began on Saturday night.
The tradition includes all-night learning of Jewish scriptures and prayer, with the Western Wall — the holiest site at which Jews are allowed to pray — a popular location.
A short distance away on Mount Zion, Catholic pilgrims held an afternoon prayer to mark Pentecost at the Cenacle, or Upper Room. Christians believe Jesus had his Last Supper in a two-storey building, and Jews regard it as the place where the biblical figure David was buried. A small group of ultra-Orthodox Jewish teens, kept at a distance from the Cenacle by dozens of Israeli policemen, heckled the faithful when those exited the site.
Last year, false rumours were rife that Israel was about to hand over sovereign rights to the site to the Vatican during the Pope’s visit. The sides have reached no such agreement, but the Vatican has asked to allow greater access rights to what is one of Christianity’s most sacred sites. Catholics can currently hold prayers at the Cenacle twice a year.