There have been warnings of risk of full-scale Palestinian uprising or third intifada
JERUSALEM: A new stabbing in Jerusalem’s Old City and a car attack spread more fear among Israelis on Monday as Palestinian unrest showed little sign of ending after nearly two weeks of violence.
Frustrated Palestinian youths have defied president Mahmud Abbas as well as an Israeli security crackdown by rioting in annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, while 16 stabbings having targeted Jews since October 3.
There have been warnings of the risk of a full-scale Palestinian uprising, or third intifada. In the latest stabbing, an Arab man attacked a policeman with a knife at an entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City and was shot dead by security forces.
The police officer’s protective vest stopped the knife and he was unharmed. The attacker was shot dead by other officers.
Police identified the attacker as an Arab without saying whether he was Palestinian or Arab Israeli. The incident occurred at the Old City’s Lions Gate.
On Sunday night, four Jews were attacked near a kibbutz in northern Israel by an Arab Israeli who rammed them with his car and then lunged at them with a knife.
The Israeli army said that two soldiers were hit by the car, with one of them seriously injured, and two civilians were stabbed.
Stabbing attacks have killed two Israelis and wounded around 20.
The violence began on October 1, when an alleged Hamas cell shot dead a Jewish settler couple in the West Bank in front of their children.
It followed repeated clashes at Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in September between Israeli security forces and Palestinian youths.
The unrest has spread to the Gaza Strip, hit by three wars with Israel since 2008. Clashes along the border left nine Palestinians dead from Israeli fire on Friday and Saturday.
On Sunday, an Israeli air strike in retaliation for two rockets fired at Israel demolished a house in northern Gaza, killing a woman and her two-year-old daughter.
Israel said the air strike targeted two arms workshops of Hamas, the militant movement that rules the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian frustration has mounted with efforts towards statehood at a standstill and Israel’s occupation continuing, and a recent opinion poll found a majority favour a return to armed uprising in the absence of peace talks.
“The current outburst is taking place because the (Palestinian Authority’s) restraining mechanisms have eroded, and now the violence is eroding what’s left of them,” said an analysis in Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
Rioting has seen Palestinians throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli forces, who have responded with live fire, rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.
The Red Crescent said Sunday that 1,021 Palestinians have been wounded by live fire and rubber bullets since October 3. Several others have been shot dead.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the emergency call-up of 16 reserve border police units to reinforce officers in east Jerusalem and throughout Israel.
But while Netanyahu and Abbas have sought to avoid an escalation, frustrated Palestinian youths have defied efforts to restore calm.
On Sunday, the Israeli cabinet approved a four-year minimum prison term for those convicted of throwing stones at moving vehicles.
An Israeli security official, in a cabinet briefing on Sunday, charged that senior members of the Palestinian Authority and Abbas’s Fatah party were inciting violence.
Meanwhile Arab Israelis held demonstrations across northern Israel on Sunday, blocking roads and burning tyres. Police said the protests were “contained” and did not report any arrests.
Early on Sunday, an explosion seriously wounded a Palestinian woman and lightly injured an Israeli policeman at a West Bank checkpoint near the Jewish settlement of Maale Adumim.
After a policeman told 31-year-old Israa Jaabis to stop, she shouted “Allahu Akbar” (God is greatest) and blew up a gas cylinder in her car, security forces said.