JERUSALEM – Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian teenager they say drew a knife on them in Jerusalem on Saturday, while another alleged Palestinian attacker was shot dead in the West Bank city of Hebron, the latest in a month of violent confrontations across Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said a 16-year-old Palestinian drew a knife on officers when they stopped him to ask for identification after a bystander said he was behaving suspiciously. She says the officers shot and killed the teenager after he tried to stab them.
The incident took place near where two Palestinian men boarded a bus earlier in the week and began shooting and stabbing passengers, killing two.
Earlier on Saturday, Israel's military said an Israeli pedestrian shot and killed a Palestinian who tried to stab him in the West Bank city of Hebron, a frequent flashpoint where a few hundred Jewish settlers live in close proximity to tens of thousands of Palestinians.
The military said the Israeli civilian shot and killed the Palestinian before the man could harm him.
Over the past month, eight Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. In that time, 33 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 16 labeled by Israel as attackers, and the rest in clashes with Israeli troops.
Most of the attacks on Israelis have been carried out by Palestinians with no known ties to militant groups. The daily attacks have caused a sense of panic across Israel and raised fears that the region is on the cusp of a new round of heavy violence.
The violence erupted a month ago over the Jewish New Year, fueled by rumors that Israel was plotting to take over Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site, a hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third-holiest shrine and a key national symbol for the Palestinians.
Israel has denied the allegations, saying it has no plans to change the status quo at the site, where Jews are allowed to visit but not pray. The Palestinian fears have been fueled by a growing number of Jews visiting the compound in recent months, especially during holidays, with the encouragement of Jewish activists groups and senior government officials.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has at times tried to calm the situation by saying violence is not in Palestinian interests and behind the scenes has ordered his security forces to reduce frictions. But Israel accuses him of incitement, saying he has not condemned attacks on Israelis and falsely accused them of killing a Palestinian boy who stabbed an Israeli boy. The Palestinian teen is recovering in an Israeli hospital.
Israel has taken unprecedented steps in response to the attacks. It has deployed soldiers in Israeli cities and erected concrete barriers outside some Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem, where most of the attacks have originated. Ordinary citizens have also increasingly taken up arms.
On Friday, Palestinian assailants firebombed a West Bank site revered by Jews as the tomb of biblical Joseph. United Nations Secretary-General ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, saying extremists were trying to make the current conflict a religious one.