Two Palestinians killed as protesters attack Israeli forces on 'Day of Rage'

A Palestinian protester hurls stones towards Israeli troops during clashes at the Israeli Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus Oct 16, 2015.
A Palestinian protester hurls stones towards Israeli troops during clashes at the Israeli Hawara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus Oct 16, 2015.PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM - At least two Palestinians were killed in a "Day of Rage" that swept the West Bank and Gaza as the worst violence between Israelis and Palestinians since last year's Gaza War showed no sign of abating.

A Palestinian assailant posing as a member of the press corps was shot dead as he stabbed an Israeli soldier at a checkpoint near Hebron, the Israeli Army said in a statement. The soldier was moderately wounded, the army said. In another incident, a 20-year-old Palestinian was shot dead in clashes in the northern Gaza Strip, a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry said.

The Hebron attacker, who was wearing a visibility jacket and a t-shirt labelled "Press," attacked the soldier after engaging him in conversation, an eyewitness told Al-Aqsa TV.

The incident occurred as Palestinians began a series of protests across the West Bank and Gaza against Israel after weeks of violence,including stabbing attacks by Palestinians and strict Israeli counter-measures.

Palestinian citizens of Israel were also urged to join the protests.

Before dawn, Palestinians tried to burn down the Tomb of Joseph, an ancient shrine in Nablus, the army said. The fire was extinguished and the crowd dispersed by Palestinian forces.

It was the first major confrontation between Palestinian security and local protesters since the current violence began at the end of July, when the firebombing of a home in the West Bank by Israeli extremists killed three Palestinians.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas denounced Friday's (Oct 16) attempted arson in Nablus as "irresponsible," and said he would repair the damage and set up an investigation. "

We absolutely reject such acts and any acts outside the law and order and that are offensive to our culture and our religion and our morals," Mr Abbas said in a statement published by WAFA, the Palestinian news agency.

Earlier, Israeli police said they discovered and defused a bomb planted in Jerusalem next to one of the many checkpoints set up around the city to limit the movements of Palestinian residents from East Jerusalem.

Worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque, a flashpoint for the protests, dispersed quietly under heavy Israeli security.

Palestinians say the violence is born out of frustration from the failure to advance the peace process, and concerns that Israel is planning to assert greater control over the Jerusalem compound that houses Al-Aqsa but is also sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount, site of a biblical Jewish shrine.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lays the blame on the Palestinian leadership, saying it is deliberately inciting its public and stoking religious passions with false claims concerning the Jerusalem holy site.