At least two Palestinians have been shot dead, after attempted attacks on Israeli troops, in the occupied West Bank.
Israeli security forces shot dead two Palestinian assailants in the occupied West Bank on Thursday, police and the army said, as a month-long spate of stabbing attacks showed no signs of abating.
The latest assaults, like other recent stabbings, took place in Hebron, a city in the West Bank, signalling that violence was shifting to that territory from Israel and Jerusalem, where police have set up roadblocks in Palestinian neighbourhoods that were home to many of the alleged assailants.
A paramilitary policeman shot dead a Palestinian in Hebron who had stabbed and lightly wounded a soldier, police said. Hours later, at a nearby location, a second Palestinian was shot and killed by Israeli troops when he tried to knife a soldier, who was unhurt, the army said.
This month’s wave of violence, the worst since the 2014 Gaza war, has in part been spurred by religious and political tensions over a Jerusalem site sacred to both Muslims and Jews.
Increased visitor numbers by religious Jews to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque plaza – Islam’s holiest site outside Saudi Arabia and revered in Judaism as the location of two destroyed biblical temples – have spurred Palestinian allegations that Israel is violating a “status quo” by which Jewish prayer there is banned.
Israel has pledged to abide by the long-standing arrangement at the site in Jerusalem’s walled Old City and has said false allegations by Palestinian officials, echoed in Arab social media, that it intends to encroach on Muslim rights of worship have been inciting violence.
Since the latest wave of unrest began on October 1, at least 62 Palestinians have been shot dead by Israelis in the West Bank and in Gaza. Of those, 35 were assailants armed mainly with knives and in some cases with guns, Israel said, while others were shot during anti-Israeli protests. Many were teenagers.
Eleven Israelis have been killed in stabbings and shootings.