After triple homicide, Israel lets PA police sweep East Jerusalem for suspects

Large numbers of armed Palestinian Authority police entered the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Kafr Aqab on Saturday following a shootout that left three Palestinian residents dead and eight wounded.

Israel officially bans the Palestinian Authority from operating inside the Jerusalem boundary and regularly cracks down on its activities in the capital. Saturday’s scenes, therefore, were highly unusual, with dozens of officers of the Palestinian security forces entering Kafr Aqab in armored jeeps before fanning out along the neighborhood’s main thoroughfare.

“Israeli authorities initially refused to allow us in. After the third death [in Kafr Aqab], however, they decided to let us enter,” a spokesperson for the Palestinian Authority police said in a phone call.

Kafr Aqab, a bustling Palestinian neighborhood of East Jerusalem, has been separated from the rest of Jerusalem since 2005 by the security barrier. The neighborhood’s Palestinian residents have long argued that the city fails to provide even basic public services to residents beyond the wall.

Israel Police rarely operate beyond the security barrier, and then only with approval from the Israel Defense Forces. The lack of police presence has given Kafr Aqab a reputation for lawlessness and anarchy, exemplified by the triple homicide in the East Jerusalem neighborhood on Saturday.

Jerusalem Police spokesperson Roni Markovitch confirmed that the shooting incident had taken place in the Jerusalem municipal area.

“[The] Israel Police is investigating the incident,” he said.

Palestinian police announced later on Saturday evening that they had arrested two suspects in connection with the shooting deaths.

According to Palestinian media reports, the three victims were Adnan al-Rajabi, Haytham al-Rajabi and Issam al-Rajabi; all were members of the same extended family. A fourth, unnamed shooting victim was still in critical condition in a Ramallah hospital as of Saturday night.

According to the Haaretz daily, the shooting deaths were part of a dispute between different branches of the al-Rajabi family.

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