JERUSALEM – A young Israeli woman was stabbed to death by a Palestinian who was among three assailants to be shot dead following separate attacks Sunday, Israeli security forces said, with the latest flare-up of violence coming ahead of a visit to the region by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
The 21-year-old Israeli woman was seriously wounded when a Palestinian attacked her with a knife in the West Bank Sunday afternoon before being shot and killed by soldiers nearby, the military said.
Dr. Ofer Merin of the Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem said "the young woman was stabbed numerous times in the head, chest and the area of the heart." He said despite attempts by medics to save her, she succumbed to her wounds.
The attack occurred at the Gush Etzion junction near Jerusalem, the scene of multiple Palestinian attacks against civilians and security forces over the past two months.
In an earlier attack, the military said a woman pulled out a knife at the entrance to a military base and began approaching civilians. A local West Bank settler leader, Gershon Mesika, said he veered off the road and struck the woman with his vehicle. A soldier then fired at her and killed her. The army did not say how close the woman had been to carrying out an attack or release a video of the incident.
Her father, Taha Qatanani, said his 16-year-old daughter went to school as usual in the morning and that he heard about her death two hours later. "She talked about stabbing to her brother the day before but no one took her seriously. If she tried to stab she did what she wanted," he said.
Elsewhere in the West Bank, a Palestinian driving a taxi cab tried to run over Israelis east of Jerusalem, police said. After crashing his car, he emerged with a knife and tried to stab people, but was shot dead by a bystander before he could harm anyone. Israeli politicians have encouraged licensed gun owners to carry their weapons during the latest wave of unrest.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu commended citizens for being on "maximum alert."
"I must say that we are showing such awareness, with considerable resourcefulness and courage, and this is deserving of all praise. We are still fighting and will continue to do so," he said at his weekly Cabinet meeting.
Sunday's attacks came two days before Kerry is scheduled to arrive in an attempt to calm tensions stemming from a two-month wave of violence that shows no signs of dissipating. It will mark his first visit to the area to meet Israeli and Palestinian leaders in more than a year.
On Saturday night, a Palestinian attacker stabbed four people in the southern Israeli town of Kiryat Gat. Following an hourslong manhunt, police found the 18-year-old hiding in the yard of a nearby home.
Over the past two months, Palestinian stabbings and other attacks have killed 18 Israelis, while 87 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire. Of them, 55 are said by Israel to be attackers and the rest were killed in clashes with Israeli troops.
The wave of violence began over tensions surrounding a sensitive Jerusalem holy site and has since spread across Israel, the West Bank and the Gaza border.
Israel says the current spate of violence is due to a Palestinian campaign of lies and incitement surrounding the holy site, which is revered by Muslims and Jews. The Palestinians say the violence is rooted in frustration over nearly a half-century of occupation and they accuse Israel of using excessive force to suppress the unrest.