- Violence mounts in West Bank after Palestinian `Day of Rage'
- Palestinians shot dead after drawing knives on Israeli forces
Four Palestinians were shot dead after stabbing Israelis in east Jerusalem and the West Bank, extending two weeks of the worst clashes since last year’s war in the Gaza Strip.
Two of the attacks took place in the West Bank city of Hebron, where the Palestinian assailants injured an Israeli soldier and a female paramilitary border police officer with knives before they were shot, according to the Israeli police and military. In a third attack in Hebron, the assailant was shot after injuring a soldier and taken away by ambulance, according to an army spokeswoman, who said his condition was not known.
The Palestinian attacker in the east Jerusalem section of Armon Hanatziv was killed in the morning by an armed Israeli civilian he had stabbed, the police said in a text message. The last incident took place after nightfall at Kalandia, the main crossing point between east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Saturday’s attacks follow a series of near daily bouts of violence this month that started with a drive-by shooting in which Palestinians killed two West Bank Jewish settlers. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have blamed each other while calling for an end to the bloodshed.
“The state of Israel is fighting with a strong fist against the attackers and those that send them,” Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon said in an e-mailed statement late Saturday.
Eight Israelis have been killed this month by Palestinian attackers using knives, firearms and vehicles as weapons. In turn, at least 34 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, half of them after attacks on Israelis and the other half in clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. Palestinian leaders say some of those shot by Israeli security forces were unarmed or didn’t pose a lethal threat, making their killings war crimes. Yaalon says Israeli forces acted properly.
Israel captured the three areas in the 1967 Middle East war. It annexed east Jerusalem in 1980 and pulled its troops and settlers out of Gaza in 2005. The areas are considered occupied territory by the Palestinians and most countries. Israel says they are disputed, and their final status must be determined in peace negotiations.
Netanyahu, who is planning to travel to Germany this week for talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel, may also meet there with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who has expressed concern about the mounting violence, the Haaretz newspaper reported, citing unidentified Israeli officials.
‘Day of Rage’
Palestinians declared a “Day of Rage” on Friday to demonstrate against Israel, which earlier in the week announced new steps to quell the violence, including the easing of open-fire rules for security forces and expediting the demolition of homes of Palestinians convicted of acts of terrorism.
Outside the northern West Bank city of Nablus early Friday, Palestinians tried to burn down the Tomb of Joseph, an ancient shrine, the Israeli army said. The fire was extinguished and the crowd dispersed by Palestinian forces. Abbas denounced the arson, pledging to repair the damage and set up an investigation.
U.S. President Barack Obama said Friday he was “very concerned” about the attacks. While defending Israel’s right to protect its citizens, he called on Israeli and Palestinian leaders “to tamp down rhetoric that might feed violence.”