Three stabbing attacks leave one dead, seven injured

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Three stabbing attacks in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and a southern West Bank settlement Thursday left one attacker dead and seven people injured, police said.

Another Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli security forces when clashes broke out after the Israelis arrived in a refugee camp in East Jerusalem to search the home of a suspect in one of the knife attacks, medical sources said.

Wissam Faraj, 20, was the third Palestinians killed in confrontations with Israeli security forces since Sunday. At least three people were shot by live ammunition Thursday in the Shufat refugee camp Thursday and many other were injured by rubber bullets and tear gas inhalation, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

It said more than 150 Palestinians were treated for injuries sustained in clashes around the West Bank, in which stones and petrol bombs were also thrown at Israeli forces.

In a bid to calm tempers after days of violence, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier ordered Israeli politicians not to visit a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem.

However, shortly after noon, a Palestinian stabbed two people at a light railway station opposite the national police headquarters in Jerusalem, police said.

Commandos on motorcycles chased down and overpowered the attacker. An ultra-Orthodox Jew was stabbed in the neck and was in serious condition. Another man sustained moderate injuries.

Another Palestinian who worked in construction in Israel allegedly stabbed Israeli bystanders with a screwdriver in central Tel Aviv. He lightly injured four people and tried to grab the weapon from a female soldier before being chased down and shot dead by another soldier, police said.

The stabbing occurred near the Israeli Defence Ministry headquarters.

Shortly afterwards, a Palestinian stabbed and seriously injured a Jewish settler near the settlement of Qiryat Arba in the southern West Bank, the military said.

The past weeks have seen a surge in Palestinian stabbings, rock-throwing and assaults with petrol bombs upon Israeli citizens and soldiers across Israel and the West Bank.

Israel has responded with mass arrests. Security forces have used live ammunition, rubber-coated bullets, tear gas and undercover commandos to disperse the violent protests.

During the past week, four Israelis and two Palestinian protesters – one a 13-year-old boy – have died. Four Palestinians who carried out stabbing attacks were also shot dead.

All cabinet members and lawmakers of the ruling right-wing coalition have been told to refrain from entering the site called the Temple Mount by Jews and the Noble Sanctuary by Muslims, an Israeli government official said Thursday.

The disputed site is sacred to both religions as it houses the al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock Shrine as well as the ruins of the biblical Jewish Temple.

Jewish pilgrimages to the mount ramp up during the three-week Jewish holiday season, which started with the Jewish New Year on September 13 and ended with the Tabernacles Festival Monday. That increase in activity exacerbated protests by Muslims who oppose Jewish visits.

Many Muslims fear that Israel plans to change a decades-old status quo at the site, under which Jews may visit but not pray on the mount. Instead, they may pray at an ancient retaining wall, known as the Wailing Wall, which holds up the platform that for centuries has housed al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock but once housed the Biblical Jewish Temple.

Netanyahu has vehemently denied any plans to change the status quo and accuses Muslim leaders of exacerbating tempers by spreading false rumours.

Radical Jewish groups slammed Netanyahu’s instruction and called on far-right lawmakers to ignore it.

Netanyahu also told police enforcing security at the holy site to bar not only Jewish but also Muslim lawmakers. The call came after he was criticized for initially instructing only Jewish politicians to suspend visits.

An Arab-Israeli opposition lawmaker was stopped by police as he tried to enter the site in defiance of Netanyahu’s order.

Others have also vowed to attend Friday prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque in defiance of the temporary order.

Neither the office of Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah nor that of Netanyahu were immediately able to confirm reports that Hamdallah had been denied entry to the site by Israel.

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