US Secretary of State John Kerry has kicked off a one-day visit to Israel and the Palestinian territories by condemning a wave of Palestinian attacks as terrorism. He is meeting with leaders from both sides.
Ahead of talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Kerry told reporters that an ongoing wave of Palestinian attacks using knives and cars deserved "the condemnation that they are receiving."
"And today I express my complete condemnation for any act of terror that takes innocent lives and disrupts the day-to-day life of a nation," Kerry said.
Kerry, who is making his first visit to Israel since 2014, said he and Netanyahu would discuss ways to work together to restore calm. He was due to hold talks with Palestianian President Mahmoud Abbas later on Tuesday in Ramallah in the West Bank.
Underscoring Kerry's concerns, the army reported shortly before the Jerusalem meeting that a Palestinian had driven a car into three Israeli soldiers and a paramilitary border policeman in the West Bank, injuring all four. The driver was shot and wounded by Israeli forces, the army said.
The attack was the latest incident in analmost two-month-long spate of violence
during which almost 20 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean have been killed, along with around 86 Palestinians, many of them teenagers, who were either assailants or protesters caught in clashes with Israeli security forces. Much of the violence has consisted ofstabbing attacks
or car rammings carried out by Palestinians.
The bloodshed comes amid raised tensions surrounding the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which is Islam's third holiest site and also sacred to Jews as the Temple Mount.
Some Muslims have been angered at a perceived increase in the number of Jewish visits to the site, which they see as a provocation.
tj/kms (Reuters, AFP)