Violence between Palestinian teenagers and Israeli police surged Saturday in the occupied West Bank town of Hebron and in Jerusalem, with police reporting at least four knife-wielding Palestinians, including a 16-year-old girl, killed in separate incidents. A fifth Palestinian was shot after a third stabbing attack in Hebron but authorities did not say whether he was killed. Authorities said several Israeli security personnel were wounded in the attacks.
At least 40 Palestinians and seven Israelis have died during weeks of street violence that Palestinian officials have linked in part to increasing Jewish encroachment at the east Jerusalem holy site known to Muslims as the al-Aqsa mosque and to Jews as the Temple Mount. Israel has adamantly denied Palestinian claims that it intends to take over the holy site.
In one attack, Israeli police say a border guard manning the Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank shot a knife-wielding Palestinian youth, first wounding the attacker and then killing him after the assailant tried for a second time to stab the guard. The death occurred as hundreds of Israeli and Arab activists gathered in Jerusalem Saturday evening for a peace rally.
Police say a 16-year-old was killed in the same area earlier Saturday after a bystander told police the youth was acting suspiciously and police asked him for identification. Authorities say two officers shot the suspect when he tried to stab them.
In Hebron, the Israeli military said a Palestinian was fatally shot while trying to stab an armed Israeli settler. In a second incident in Hebron, police said a Palestinian girl was killed while trying to stab a female Israeli soldier outside a checkpoint. A third Palestinian was shot by police in Hebron after stabbing and wounding a police officer after nightfall. Police did not say whether the attacker was killed.
Obama concerned about violence
U.S. President Barack Obama, speaking Friday, called on regional leaders to “tamp down” on rhetoric that might feed “violence or anger or misunderstanding."
The president also said it is up to Israel and the Palestinians to decide whether to restart stalled U.S.-backed peace talks. “I think it's going to be up to the parties and we stand ready to assist, to see if they can restart a more constructive relationship.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is set to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu next week. The State Department said that meeting will probably take place in Germany, although details have not been finalized.
Netanyahu is scheduled to meet with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday.
UN Security Council meeting
Israeli and Palestinian officials traded blame for the escalating violence on Friday at an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.
Palestinian U.N. Ambassador Riyad Mansour used the meeting to call for international protection for Palestinians in Israeli-occupied territories, and complained of Israeli "atrocities."
Israeli U.N. Ambassador Danny Dannon said Palestinian incitement, not Israel's decades-long military rule of Palestinians, was responsible for the outbreak of violence.
France is said to be preparing the draft of a Security Council statement that would appeal for calm and for maintaining the status quo at the Jerusalem holy site that Muslims call the al-Aqsa mosque and Jews call the Temple Mount.
Robert Berger contributed to this report from Jerusalem