Israel strives to contain wave of stabbing attacks


Associated Press

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip

Unrest that erupted several weeks ago at Jerusalem’s most-sensitive holy site spread Friday to Gaza in the form of deadly border clashes with Palestinian protesters, as Israeli security forces struggled to contain a wave of Palestinian stabbing attacks against civilians and soldiers.

For the first time since the current violence began, clashes broke out along the Gaza border after Palestinians in the territory ruled by the Islamic militant group Hamas rolled burning tires and threw rocks at Israeli troops on the frontier. Six Palestinians were killed and a dozen were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said.

The Israeli military said, “More than a thousand rioters infiltrated the buffer zone engaging the forces at the security fence. Rioters reached the security fence – hurled a grenade, rocks and rolled burning tires at Israeli forces ... threatening to breach the fence and storm the adjacent communities.” It said troops fired warning shots and then fired at main instigators to prevent their advance.

Recent days have seen a series of attacks by young Palestinians wielding household items such as kitchen knives, screwdrivers and even a vegetable peeler. The youths had no known links to armed groups who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating security efforts.

The violence, including the first apparent revenge attack by an Israeli, raised fears of the unrest spiraling further out of control.

The unpredictability and brutality of the assaults, coupled with the young age of some of the attackers, have shocked Israelis and raised fears a new Palestinian intifada – or uprising – could be underway.

In Jerusalem, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded a 14-year-old Israeli with a vegetable peeler Friday before being arrested. In another attack near the entrance of Kiryat Arba, a West Bank settlement, a Palestinian was shot dead by a police officer after he attacked him with a knife and tried to seize his weapon, police said.

In northern Israel, a 29-year-old Arab-Israeli woman was shot and wounded while trying to stab people at a bus station in the town of Afula, where another stabbing had taken place the day before, police said.

Gaza-based Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh applauded the recent Palestinian stabbing attacks across Israel at a speech at Friday prayers, labeling it as an intifada.

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