Palestinian attackers went after Israelis with knives and – in one instance – a gun Tuesday, leaving three Israelis dead and 22 injured in separate assaults on a “Day of Rage” declared by Palestinian groups.
Two of the attackers were also killed and three injured.
After four attacks in a matter of hours, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened an emergency cabinet session.
He was expected to discuss the unprecedented option of blocking off Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem in order to impede Palestinian access to predominantly Jewish areas.
Two Israelis were killed and 16 injured on a bus in Jerusalem, after two assailants boarded, one with a gun, the second with a knife, opening fire and stabbing passengers.
The two attackers were shot by police, spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said. One was killed, the other is in serious condition.
In another part of Jerusalem, a man rammed his vehicle into a bus stop in an ultra-Orthodox neighbourhood, then got out of his car and repeatedly stabbed a 60-year-old rabbi with a butcher’s knife, killing him before being fatally shot by a security guard and border policemen who rushed to the scene.
Ra’anana, a town north of Tel Aviv, saw two separate stabbing incidents.
At the first, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem was overpowered and beaten by bystanders after moderately wounding several Israelis standing at a bus stop, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld and witnesses said.
Less than two hours later, a second Palestinian seiously injured an Israeli woman, stabbing her while shouting “God is Great” in Arabic. He too was stopped and beaten by bystanders.
Meanwhile, scores of Palestinians clashed with Israeli soldiers at checkpoints in the West Bank, hurling stones and petrol bombs, while setting tires on fire. Seven Palestinians were injured by live ammunition and 30 by rubber bullets, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.
In the Gaza Strip, hundreds stormed the salient’s northern and southern borders, hurling rocks and rolling burning tires at Israeli troops guarding it, a military spokeswoman said.
Tuesday’s violence came after four stabbing attacks in Jerusalem on Monday.
Seven Israelis have been killed and many injured in a wave of Palestinian knife attacks this month.
Eighteen Palestinians from the West Bank and Jerusalem have been killed, but more than half of them have been attackers shot dead after or during attempts to stab Israelis.
Others have been killed, including several minors, in clashes with Israeli security forces, who have used live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse protestors throwing stones and petrol bombs at soldiers and civilian motorists.
In the Gaza Strip, 11 Palestinians were killed while storming the border fence with Israel and in an airstrike in retaliation for Palestinian rocket attacks.
The past 12 days have seen the worst spell of street violence in Israel and the Palestinian territories in years.
On Tuesday, a coalition of most leading Palestinian political parties and groups, calling themselves the Nationalist and Islamic Forces, had called for a “Day of Rage.”
Hamas, the Islamist movement in de facto control of Gaza, has praised the knife attacks and called for more.
“Go ahead, keep carrying out stabbing attacks, kill them (Israelis) wherever you meet them,” said one Hamas speaker over a mosque loudspeaker in Gaza City.
The violence comes 18 months after a last attempt at peace negotiations collapsed, and as Muslims fear that Israel plans to alter the status quo at a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site, which houses al-Aqsa Mosque and also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple.
Israel has denied any such plans at the Temple Mount/Nobel Sanctuary and accused radical Muslim leaders of inflaming the region by spreading “wild lies.”
The daily stabbings have stirred fear of a third Palestinian Intifada, a decade after the second Palestinian uprising, which broke out in 2000 amid a deadlock in peace talks, died down.
They come as a new Palestinian generation is increasingly frustrated with the failure to achieve statehood through peace negotiations.
Most stabbings were carried out by lone Palestinians, many in their teens or early 20s, with no known membership of militant groups, inspired by calls on social media or by radical leaders, who urge them to “defend” al-Aqsa.
This has made it hard for Israeli law enforcement to predict or prevent the random attacks throughout Israel and Jerusalem.