Middle East

Israel: Palestinian attacker tries stabbing soldier before troops kill him

Israeli soldiers stand guard near the scene of an attack outside the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday.

Israeli soldiers stand guard near the scene of an attack outside the West Bank city of Hebron on Tuesday.  (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Israel's military said its troops shot and killed a knife-wielding Palestinian on Tuesday who tried to stab a soldier near the West Bank city of Hebron.

A recent surge in Palestinian attacks has shattered weeks of relative calm. Israeli forces have killed six alleged attackers since the weekend, raising fears of a return to near-daily attacks often seen over the past year.

Israel has beefed up the police presence in Jerusalem and sent troop reinforcements to the West Bank. The Hebron area, where several Jewish settlements exist in close proximity to Palestinian communities, has been a particular flashpoint.

The Palestinian assaults, mainly stabbings, began a year ago, around the Jewish high holidays. They have killed 34 Israelis and two Americans.

About 217 Palestinians have been killed during that period. Israel says the vast majority were attackers, but the Palestinians have accused Israel of using excessive force and killing people who were not assailants.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the potential for violence could rise as the Jewish high holidays approach again.

Israel has blamed the violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders compounded on social media sites. The Palestinians say it is rooted in nearly 50 years of military occupation and dwindling hopes for independence.

Also Tuesday, Israel's military said it shot down a drone over Gaza. The military said it tracked the drone from takeoff and that it never entered Israeli airspace. Israel is not known to have shot down a drone over Gaza since the 2014 summer war.

Gaza's Hamas rulers have been trying to develop an unmanned aerial surveillance program to use against Israel, but it is believed to mostly involve amateur drones with little operational capabilities.