A spree of stabbing attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank showed no signs of abating Monday, with authorities reporting incidents involving four Palestinians wielding knives at Israelis, resulting in two deaths and at least five injuries.
Israel’s Jewish residents have been in a semi state of siege since a spate of knife attacks involving Palestinians targeting Jews began earlier this month, first in Jerusalem, and then spreading to other Israeli cities. Four Israelis have died in those attacks.
But the same period of time has seen 15 Palestinian deaths in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
More than half were attackers shot dead after or during attempts to stab Israelis. Others were killed in clashes with Israeli soldiers, who have used live ammunition, rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse demonstrators throwing stones and petrol bombs at soldiers and civilian motorists.
During the same period, 11 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including a pregnant mother and her 2-year-old daughter, who died in an Israeli airstrike Sunday.
A 13-year-old Palestinian boy died overnight into Monday after being shot in the head by a rubber bullet, which caused bleeding in his brain, the Palestinian Health Ministry reported.
Monday’s violence started when Israeli border policemen saw a youth walking in the historic Old City of Jerusalem with his hand in his pocket.
The officers approached him, asking him for his identity card. Instead, he produced a knife and stabbed one of the border policemen. Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the officer was not injured thanks to his bullet-resistant vest. The attacker was shot dead by one of the officers.
Later, a 16-year-old Palestinian girl stabbed another Israeli border policeman elsewhere in the city, near the national police headquarters. He sustained light injuries, but still shot and moderately injured the attacker, Samri said.
Minutes later, two suspects stabbed Israelis in the East Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Zeev.
They managed to injure two Jews, one of them a 16-year-old on his bike who was in critical condition after the attack, police said. A border policeman shot one of the attackers, apparently killing him, while the second attacker was injured by a vehicle while trying to flee, they said.
The violence comes 18 months after a last attempt at Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations collapsed, and as Muslims fear Israeli plans to alter the status quo at a highly sensitive Jerusalem holy site, that houses al-Aqsa Mosque, but also the ruins of the Biblical Jewish Temple.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vehemently denied any plans to alter the status quo at the Temple Mount/Nobel Sanctuary and accused radical Muslim leaders of inflaming the region by spreading “wild lies.”