JERUSALEM: Three Palestinians were shot dead and a fourth was seriously injured on Saturday in what Israel said were foiled knife attacks in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as tensions ran high after more than two weeks of unrest.
Forty Palestinians and seven Israelis have died in the recent street violence, which was in part triggered by Palestinians’ anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Israel says it is keeping the status quo at the holy compound.
In the latest attack, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier near the West Bank city of Hebron, wounding him moderately, an Israeli police spokesman said. He added that the attacker was shot and seriously wounded.
In East Jerusalem and Hebron, two Palestinian assailants who attempted knife attacks were shot dead, Israeli authorities said, and one Israeli border policewoman was lightly wounded.
A third Palestinian was shot dead, also in Hebron, but there were conflicting reports about how it happened.
Israel’s military said a Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli civilian, who was carrying a gun. The man shot and killed the attacker.
A Palestinian man said that his daughter, a high school student, saw the shooting and said it happened when Jewish settlers attacked an unarmed Palestinian.
The violence has mostly occurred in Jerusalem and the West Bank but it has also erupted along the Gaza-Israel border. On Saturday Israel’s army defused a rocket it said had been fired by Gaza militants overnight, landing in an open area.
The street violence, some of the worst in years, has been intensified by conflicting witness accounts and amateur video that has been interpreted in different ways. In some cases, witnesses gave accounts that were later shown by video footage to be false.
The Palestinian dead include knife-wielding assailants and protesters shot by Israeli forces during rock-throwing confrontations. The Israelis were killed in random attacks in the street or on buses.
Peace talks collapsed in 2014 over Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Palestinians seek for a state, and after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas angered Israel by reaching a unity deal with the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.
The last major confrontation was the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas in 2014, which left large sections of Gaza destroyed. Around 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 Israelis, most of them soldiers, were killed.
The United States has stepped up efforts to try to restore calm to the region. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Mr Abbas to discuss ways to end the violence.