Israeli troops have shot and killed an Arab who stabbed four Israelis with a screwdriver amid new Israeli-Palestinian violence that prompted the Israeli prime minister to bar cabinet ministers and politicians from a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem’s Old City that is at the heart of the latest tensions.
Three new stabbings – in Jerusalem, in the West Bank and another in Israel’s economic hub of Tel Aviv – left several people wounded and an attacker dead.
In Tel Aviv, an Israeli soldier shot and killed an Arab attacker after he stabbed and wounded four Israelis with a screwdriver, including a female soldier near a busy Tel Aviv road, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said. The attacker’s identity was not immediately known.
Earlier, Ms Samri said a Palestinian teenager stabbed a 25-year-old Israeli in the neck in Jerusalem, wounding him seriously, before police arrested the attacker.
In the West Bank, an Israeli man was seriously wounded when a Palestinian stabbed him in the stomach. Israeli forces were searching the area for the assailant after he fled the scene.
It was the latest violence in a week in which bloody attacks left four Israelis dead. Including yesterday’s incident, six Palestinians have been killed in the unrest.
Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s move to try to calm the situation appeared to put the Israeli leader on a collision course with hardliners within his own governing coalition. They have been putting intense pressure on Mr Netanyahu to respond to the surge in violence with a tough crackdown and increased settlement activity.
But Mr Netanyahu is also wary of angering the American administration and risking another fully fledged uprising with too tough a response that could lead to a higher number of casualties on both sides.
The Jerusalem hilltop compound lies at the heart of recent tensions. It is revered by Muslims as the spot where Prophet Mohammed ascended to heaven and by Jews as the site of the two Jewish biblical temples.
Many Palestinians believe Israel is trying to expand Jewish presence at the site, a claim Israel adamantly denies and considers slanderous. Under a longstanding arrangement administered by Islamic authorities, Jews are allowed to visit the site during certain hours but not pray there.
The latest Israeli-Palestinian unrest began about three weeks ago as Palestinians repeatedly barricaded themselves inside the Al-Aqsa mosque, located at the sacred site, and hurled stones, firebombs and fireworks at the police.
The violence later spread to Arab neighbourhoods of east Jerusalem and to the West Bank, and on Tuesday there were disturbances in Jaffa, a largely Arab area of Tel Aviv.
Even with yesterday’s attacks, Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas said he would not allow his people to be “dragged” into more violence with Israel.