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Netanyahu vows to defeat 'knife terror' after three new attacks

13 october 2015, 12:05
0

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed Monday that Israel would not bow to "knife terror" as three new stabbings in Jerusalem spread more fear among Israelis and Palestinian unrest showed little sign of slowing, AFP reports.

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. 

  Growing anger 

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 Islamist 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.

Funerals of Palestinians killed during unrest or while allegedly carrying out attacks -- as well as videos of the shootings -- have fed anger.

On Monday, children with plastic guns mixed among hundreds of others who carried the body of Ahmed Sharake, a 13-year-old, during his funeral procession at the turbulent Jalazone refugee camp.

He was killed on Sunday during clashes in Ramallah.

"He left without telling me," his mother Huda told AFP. "I saw on television that someone was killed and it was only afterward that somebody told me that it was Ahmed."

Clashes erupted at a checkpoint near Ramallah after the funeral.

   More than 1,000 wounded 

Around 25 Palestinians have been killed amid the unrest, including alleged attackers.

Protests 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.

Videos posted online of Israeli officers shooting dead alleged knife attackers have galvanised Palestinian youths, who see the killings as unjustified.

Palestine Liberation Organisation secretary general Saeb Erekat lashed out at Netanyahu after his parliament speech, saying "executions" and harassment from Jewish settlers have exacerbated the violence.

In Vienna, Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki accused Israel of inciting the violence.

"Netanyahu wants to instigate a third intifada. He wants to avoid problems that he is facing in the political and diplomatic arena, where he has failed miserably," Malki told AFP in Vienna.

Netanyahu called on Abbas to stop what he called Palestinian incitement and to condemn attacks.

Both Netanyahu and Abbas have sought to avoid an escalation, but frustrated Palestinian youths have defied efforts to restore calm.

Israel also said Monday that YouTube had taken down Palestinian videos that the Jewish state considered to be "inciting murder".

Videos of Palestinians stabbing Israelis or calling for such attacks as well as footage of protesters throwing stones at Israeli soldiers have been shared on the Internet, in addition to the shooting footage.


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