Fresh wave of at least 4 stabbings shake Israel and the West Bank

Israeli police detain a Palestinian man suspected of stabbing an Israeli in Jerusalem on Oct 9, 2015. Four Israelis have been killed in stabbings in Jerusalem and a drive-by shooting in the occupied West Bank since last week, and there have been several such attacks by Palestinians within Israel that caused injuries but no fatalities. Three Palestinians have been shot dead and scores injured in clashes with Israeli security services, triggering fears of a new Palestinian uprising or intifada. PHOTO: REUTERS

JERUSALEM (AFP) - A fresh wave of stabbings shook Israel and the West Bank on Friday (Oct 9), including a suspected revenge attack by a Jewish suspect that wounded two Palestinians and two Arab Israelis.

Attacks also continued against Israelis and Jews, with a Palestinian stabbing a policeman near a West Bank settlement before being shot dead by the victim, who was lightly wounded.

Also, an 18-year-old Palestinian was arrested after a 16-year-old Jew was stabbed and lightly wounded near a main road separating Orthodox Jewish neighbourhoods from Palestinian districts, police said.

In the earliest assault, the Jewish assailant aged about 20 was arrested and told police he carried out the attack in the southern Israeli city of Dimona because "all Arabs are terrorists".

The victims suffered light to moderate wounds. It marked the first such attack against Palestinians after at least 11 stabbings that have targeted Israelis or Jews since Saturday, killing two of them.

Later, a woman was shot after a stabbing attempt in northern Israel.

Police called the first attack "nationalistic", indicating it may have been in revenge for at least eight stabbings that have targeted Israelis since last Saturday, killing at least two of them.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly condemned the stabbings by the Jewish suspect, a sign of concerns it could trigger further violence.

Mr Netanyahu "firmly condemns the attack against innocent Arabs", a statement said of the stabbing in southern Israel. "The authorities will pursue anyone who engages in violence and violates the law, no matter on what side it occurs."

Palestinians have also rioted in annexed east Jerusalem and the West Bank, with the unrest raising fears of a wider uprising or even a third intifada.

Several hundred right-wing Jewish protesters marched in Jerusalem on Thursday night, including some chanting "Death to Arabs" and "No Arabs, No Attacks".

Arab Israelis are the descendants of Palestinians who remained after the creation of the state of Israel in 1948 and hold Israeli citizenship.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians also work in Israel, particularly in construction.

Friday's stabbing came as Israeli security forces sought to prevent the further spread of Palestinian unrest, with MR Netanyahu on Thursday night saying the country faced a mostly unorganised "wave of terror".

"These actions are mostly not organised, but they are all the result of wild and untruthful incitement from Hamas, from the Palestinian Authority, from several neighbouring counties and, no less, from the Islamic Movement in Israel," he said.

Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas has spoken out against violence and in favour of "peaceful, popular resistance", but many youths are frustrated with his leadership as well as Israel's government.

Jerusalem's Old City was the site of tensions on Friday as Muslims filed toward the sensitive Al-Aqsa mosque compound for the main weekly prayers. Scuffles broke out as a group of about 50 Jews wearing skullcaps or draped in the Israeli flag walked through the mainly Muslim eastern portion of the Old City toward the Western Wall.

Jews shouted "long live the Israeli people" and some of the women made obscene gestures at Muslims, who responded with shouts of "Allahu Akbar".

Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian youths have repeatedly erupted at the Al-Aqsa compound in recent weeks, and police were prohibiting men under 45 from entering the site on Friday.

Such measures are often put into effect when tensions flare.

The compound is the third-holiest site in Islam and the most sacred to Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount.

It is located in east Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in 1967 and later annexed in a move never recognised by the international community.

Stabbing attacks targeting Jews began on Saturday in the Old City, when two Israelis were killed there, prompting a security crackdown.

Security measures were further tightened Thursday, with six metal detectors set up in the Old City and police stationed on rooftops.

The Jerusalem mayor went as far as to encourage residents who own guns to carry them around with them, even carrying one himself earlier this week while visiting a Palestinian area of the city where clashes have erupted.

In one step intended to calm tensions, Mr Netanyahu has barred members of parliament and ministers from visiting the Al-Aqsa compound.

Provocative visits by Israel's Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel as well as by Israeli Arab lawmakers have added to the volatility.

Arab lawmakers have vowed to defy the order and plan to make a joint visit to the compound, which will test enforcement of the order.

Muslims fear Israel will seek to change the longstanding rules governing the site, which allow Jews to visit but not pray to avoid provoking tensions.

Mr Netanyahu has said repeatedly he is committed to the status quo.

An increase in visits by Jews during a series of Jewish holidays in recent weeks has added to tensions.

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