GAZA (Reuters) – Palestinian militant factions denied on Saturday a claim by Islamic State that three Palestinian men who carried out a fatal shooting and stabbing attack in Jerusalem were members of the militant group.
Islamic State took responsibility for the attack on Friday, in which one Israeli police officer was killed and another wounded, according to the group’s Amaq news agency.
Israeli security officials did not respond immediately to requests for comment on what the SITE intelligence monitoring group described as the first time Islamic State had claimed responsibility for an attack in Israeli-controlled territory, nor on the attackers’ affiliation.
However, a senior official from Hamas, the Islamic group that rules the Gaza Strip, and the People’s Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) said the three attackers, who were all shot dead at the scene, were their own members.
“The three hero martyrs who executed the Jerusalem operation have no connection to Daesh (Islamic State), they are affiliated with the PFLP and Hamas,” Hamas’ Izzat El-Reshiq wrote on Twitter.
The PFLP published a separate statement in which it identified two of the three attackers as members. “The media office of the PFLP armed wing mourns two of its hero comrades, two freed prisoners,” it said.
Israeli police said on Friday all the assailants were from Palestinian cities in the occupied West Bank. Two of the attackers, both from Ramallah, were between the ages of 18 and 19 and the third was a 30-year-old from Hebron, police spokeswoman Luba Simri said.
The assaults took place simultaneously in two areas near the Damascus gate of Jerusalem’s walled old city.
Two Palestinians were shot dead after opening fire at and trying to stab a group of Israeli police officers at one scene, police said. At the other, a Palestinian fatally stabbed a border policewoman before being shot dead by police.
A wave of Palestinian street attacks began in October 2015 but has since slowed. Israel blames the violence on incitement by the Palestinian leadership.
The Palestinian Authority, which exercises limited self-rule in the West Bank, denies that and says assailants have acted out of desperation over Israeli occupation of land sought by Palestinians for a state.
U.S.-brokered peace talks between the sides broke down in 2014. Palestinians want to establish an independent state in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, territories Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East War.
(Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi and Maayan Lubell; Editing by Paul Tait)