Clashes and killings in Jerusalem’s Old City have brought tensions to a boil in the divided city of Hebron.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said there is no quick fix for a spate of Palestinian “lone-wolf” attacks that the country has faced in recent days.
Four people, including an Israeli soldier, were stabbed and wounded near a military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Thursday as a rash of such Palestinian attacks spread to Israel’s commercial capital.
The assailant was shot and killed by another soldier as he fled, a police spokeswoman said.
“We are in the midst of a wave of terror … 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 said in a prime time news conference, with top security officials by his side.
Four Israelis have been killed in stabbings in Jerusalem and a drive-by shooting in the occupied West Bank in the past week. Three Palestinians have been shot dead and hundreds injured in clashes with security services, triggering fears of escalation.
The UN human rights chief, Zeid Raad al-Hussein, called for calm on Thursday, warning that “more bloodshed will only lead to more hatred on both sides”.
He said he was deeply concerned about the increasing number of attacks by both settlers and Palestinians, and voiced concern about the number of Palestinians injured in clashes.
“The high number of casualties, in particular those resulting from the use of live ammunition by Israeli security forces, raise concerns of excessive use of force,” Hussein said.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, at least 1,600 Palestinians have been injured since October 3.
The violence has erupted over what Palestinians believe is Israeli encroachment of their holiest site in Jerusalem, the al-Aqsa Mosque, located in a complex revered by both Muslims and Jews.
In a bid to lower tensions, Netanyahu’s office said he had banned Israeli cabinet ministers and legislators from visiting the sensitive religious site.
Fearing violence after prayers on Friday, Israeli police said only men over the age of 50 and women of all ages would be permitted to enter the al-Aqsa complex, a step that has been taken often in the past during periods of high tension.
While saying he was not in favour of violence and wanted to avoid confrontation with Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas praised those “defending al-Aqsa”.
“We believe in peace and in peaceful people resistance … We support our brothers who are protecting al-Aqsa who are suffering so much in order to protect it. We say to the Israeli government: stay away from our Muslim and Christian sites,” Abbas said.
In other attacks on Thursday, shortly after the incident in Tel Aviv, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded a man in the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the occupied West Bank, an ambulance service official said.
Hours earlier, a Jewish seminary student was wounded in a Palestinian knife attack on a main road in Jerusalem. Police said the assailant was arrested at the scene.
And in the northern Israeli town of Afula, two people, including one soldier were stabbed and wounded by a Palestinian who was apprehended by passers-by, police said.
A Palestinian was declared dead in hospital in Ramallah after a clash with Israeli troops in the Shuafat refugee camp on the outskirts of Jerusalem and a number of other protesters were wounded, a Palestinian hospital source said.