Israel would not bow to “knife terror”, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday as three new stabbings in Jerusalem spread more fear among Israelis and Palestinian unrest showed little sign of slowing.
Frustrated Palestinian youths have defied president Mahmud Abbas as well as an Israeli security crackdown by taking part in violent protests in annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank, while 18 stabbings have targeted Jews since October 3.
There have been warnings of the risk of a full-scale Palestinian uprising, or third intifada.
Stabbing attacks have killed two Israelis and wounded around 20, including a 13-year-old critically injured on Monday.
Speaking as a new session of Parliament opened, Netanyahu said “we are operating against the attackers on all fronts.”
Referring to past Palestinian uprisings, he said Israel had overcome previous bombing campaigns and “knife terror will not defeat us now.”
Security forces have however struggled to stop the stabbings, mostly committed by young Palestinians believed to be acting on their own. In Monday’s first stabbing, an 18-year-old Palestinian identified as Mustafa al-Khatib 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, from east Jerusalem, was shot dead by other officers.
Later in the day, a female attacker stabbed an Israeli policeman near the force’s headquarters in Jerusalem and was shot and wounded by the victim, police said. In the third attack, two young Palestinian teenagers stabbed two Israelis in the east Jerusalem settlement of Pisgat Zeev, with one attacker -- a 17-year-old -- killed and the other, 13, shot and seriously wounded.
The victims were both Jews, with a 13-year-old who was riding a bicycle critically wounded and a 25-year-old seriously hurt, police said.
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.