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Palestinian stabs U.S.-Israeli citizen to death at West Bank mall

GUSH ETZION, West Bank (Reuters) - A Palestinian fatally stabbed an American-born Jewish settler in the occupied West Bank on Sunday then was himself shot and seized by armed civilians who gave chase.

The victim, Ari Fuld, 45, was well-known amongst settlers as a pro-Israel advocate. According to his Twitter account, he had planned a lecture tour in the United States in November.

Israeli police said the Palestinian who stabbed him in the back at a shopping mall in the Etzion bloc of Jewish settlements south of Jerusalem was shot and wounded by one of several armed civilians - including a bleeding Fuld - who gave chase.

The suspected assailant was identified by his family as Khalil Youssef Jabarin, 17, from the village of Yatta in the southern West Bank. He was taken into custody.

Palestinian street attacks against Israelis, many carried out by assailants with no known affiliation to militant groups, have been sporadic since 2015, a year after peace talks collapsed.

Hundreds of mourners attended Fuld’s funeral, which began close to midnight at a cemetery at the Kfar Etzion settlement in the West Bank.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu paid a condolence visit to Fuld’s family and wrote on Twitter: “I embraced them on behalf of all the people of Israel during their time of terrible sorrow. We live because of heroes like Ari, We will remember him, always.”

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Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made what appeared to be an indirect reference to the killing while meeting former Israeli officials in Ramallah, the official Palestinian Wafa news agency said.

“Abbas reaffirmed the commitment of the Palestinian side to achieving peace through peaceful, popular resistance, because killing, settlement building, destruction and displacing of residents will not achieve security and peace for any party in the region,” Wafa quoted him as saying.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the Hamas militant group that rules the Gaza Strip, called the West Bank stabbing a “natural response to Israeli crimes against Palestinians” in occupied territory. It did not claim responsibility for the attack.

David Friedman, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, said on Twitter that “America grieves as one of its citizens was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist.”

Friedman, who as a private citizen raised money for Jewish settlements, said Fuld “represented the best of both countries and will be deeply missed”. Fuld, a father of four, lived in the settlement of Efrat, in the Etzion area.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East negotiator Jason Greenblatt also issued a comment, on Twitter: “Words cannot express our feeling of loss as an American-Israeli, Ari Fuld, was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist.”

Most countries view Israeli settlements, on occupied land Palestinians claim for a state as illegal. Israel disputes this.

Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah; wWriting by Dan Williams, Jeffrey Heller and Ori Lewis; editing by Jonathan Oatis