Violent attacks have seen no downturn despite a nationwide military crackdown in Israel. The new security crackdown has sparked a tense exchange between Jerusalem and Washington.
The US announced on Thursday that it would send Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East to calm tensions as a spate of attacks, mostly stabbings, continued in spite of Israel's new security checkpoints across Jerusalem and the hundreds of soldiers called in to support the ranks of police and military already deployed in the nation's biggest cities.
Thursday saw the recent surge of unrest enter its third week as frustrated Palestinian youths ignored pleas both from the Israeli government and their own president, Mahmoud Abbas, to show restraint.
In his first televised remarks since the violence began, Abbas said he could only support "peaceful and popular" resistance against Israel.
On Wednesday, a 23-year-old stabbed a woman of around 70 near a crowded bus station in Hebron, before being shot dead by police in front of terrified commuters, bringing the death toll up to three Palestinians and eight Israelis. Hundreds more have been wounded in clashes with Israeli forces.
On top of the strengthened military presence and the checkpoints in East Jerusalem, where most of the attackers came from, Israel's security cabinet introduced new restrictions on residency permits for Palestinians, introduced curfews in some parts of Jerusalem and eased firearms laws for Israelis.
None of this, however, has successfully curbed the violence - placing added pressure on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to assuage fears of a third full-scale Palestinian uprising.
Israel slams US 'hypocrisy'
In response to the new slate of security measures, US State Department John Kirby voiced American worries about "reports of security activity that could indicate the potential excessive use of force," by Israel.
The remark, a clarification of earlier words made by John Kerry, prompted Israeli Police Minister Gilad Erdan to retort that "there should be a limit to the American State Department's hypocrisy."
"Every sane person knows full well how the police in the United States would act if militants armed with knives and axes murdered civilians in New York and Washington," Erdan told Israel Radio.
His statement was later echoed by Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon, who accused Washington of "misreading" what was at stake.
es/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)