An Israeli has stabbed and wounded four Palestinians in an attack in city of Dimona in southern Israel, according to police, who described the motive as “nationalistic”.
The Israeli was arrested by police. Two of the victims sustained moderate wounds, while two others were lightly injured, local media reported.
Among the victims were three construction workers and a municipal employee who was described as a Bedouin Palestinian from a nearby village.
All four of the men have been transferred to a nearby hospital for treatment, local media reported.
The attack comes at a time of soaring tensions over the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in occupied East Jerusalem and after a week of Palestinian stabbing attacks targeting Israelis.
Hundreds of right-wing Jewish protesters rallied in Jerusalem on Thursday night, marching through the city and chanting “Death to Arabs!”, according to Israeli daily Haaretz.
In addition to extending a ban for men under the age of 45 who want to pray at the mosque on Friday, Israeli police have installed metal detectors at several entrances to Jerusalem’s Old City.
Thousands of police officers were also deployed across the city on Friday.
“Police have made security assessments for Friday prayers and have added many metal detectors and extra checkpoints throughout the Old City, and will continue to closely monitor Arab neighbourhoods,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told local media.
The restrictions come a day after at least eight Israelis were injured in four separate stabbing attacks.
Early on Thursday, a 25-year-old Israeli yeshiva student was severely injured as a result of being stabbed in upper body.
Hours later a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv injured four people, including an Israeli soldier. A Palestinian suspect was shot and killed at the scene. He was identified as 25-year-old Thaer Abu Ghazaleh.
Another pair of attacks – one in the northern Israeli city of Afula and the other in the West Bank settlement of Kiryat Arba – left two Israelis injured.
Uptick in violence
The uptick in violence comes after months of tensions over the al-Aqsa Mosque compound. An increase in Israeli visits to the compound have fed fears among Palestinians that Israel is moving to divide the compound into two separate areas of worship for Jews and Muslims.
At least 31 Palestinians have been killed since the beginning of the year, according to United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ figures.
Of that total, six Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces since Saturday. Among them were three protesters, including a 13-year-old boy, and three suspects in stabbing attacks who were fatally shot at the scene.
Israeli forces have responded harshly to protests, using live ammunition in some cases.
“The death of a child after security forces used live ammunition against demonstrators should be a wake-up call for Israeli officials,” said Joe Stork , Human Rights Watch’s deputy Middle East director, in a statement.
“Israel needs to ensure that its police and army comply with international standards for the use of force.”
At least 1,600 Palestinians have been injured during confrontations with Israeli security forces or Jewish settlers since October 3, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
“We are in the midst of a wave of terror,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at a press conference on Thursday night. “There is no magic solution and the actions [we are taking] will not yield instant results, but with methodical determination we will prove that terror does not pay and we will defeat it.”
Netanyahu called for a unity government that includes the opposition, led by the centrist Zionist Union electoral coalition. “I have said from the beginning that I think at this time, in light of what is happening in the Middle East, there is a reason for a wide government, and wide united front,” he said.
But the prime minister has come under fire from politicians across the political spectrum.
Zionist Union parliamentarian Shelly Yacimovich rebuffed his offer in a Twitter post: “Unity government? Why? To create a false impression that the opposition has a part in his failure to provide security?”