"A Palestinian woman acting suspiciously approached border police forces. She was requested to identify herself when she suddenly drew a knife and approached the forces yelling. The forces shot at her and neutralised her," a police statement said. Police later pronounced the Palestinian dead and identified her as 17-year-old Dania Irshaid.
Police said none of their forces were harmed in the attack, which took place near the shrine known to Jews as the Cave of the Patriarchs and to Muslims as the Ibrahimi Mosque. However, several witnesses disputed the official version of events. One of them, Abdu Khader, said he was only metres (yards) away when he saw Irshaid approach the checkpoint, wearing a white headscarf.
"She presented her backpack to soldiers who proceeded to search it," he told AFP. "I heard them calling her and saying 'Where is the knife? Where is the knife?' She took a step back but there were a dozen soldiers behind her. They shot seven or eight times," he said.
Raed Abu Rmileh posted a video on YouTube which shows the body of a woman clad in black lying on the ground surrounded by uniformed officers, her white headscarf covered in blood. "She was at the checkpoint. A soldier called her to go through her bag. She put her bag on the ground and then we heard shooting. The soldiers said she had a knife" but no weapon is visible in the video, he told AFP.
The Palestinian-led International Solidarity Movement said it had collected eyewitness accounts saying the same thing: that she had first been shot in the legs, that she tried to walk backwards with her hands in the air, but that she was killed with seven or eight shots. Police maintained their version of events, and said they had recovered a knife at the scene.
The flashpoint city of Hebron has been the site of several attacks against Israeli security forces and settlers in the recent wave of violence. In September the army was forced to defend itself over questions swirling around the death of an 18-year-old Palestinian woman in Hebron they said had tried to stab a soldier when she was shot.
Activists distributed photos purporting to show the fully veiled woman with no knife visible at the checkpoint. The pictures however do not capture the moment of the shooting and no firm conclusion can be drawn from them. The Israeli military maintained its initial version of events and local media published a photo distributed by the military of a knife on the ground that the woman allegedly used.