Growing violence between Israelis and Palestinians has spread into the Gaza Strip. Deadly clashes and a series of stabbings have heightened fears of a new uprising.
Tensions mounted in Israel on Saturday, as the Palestinian death toll continued to rise and another attack against Israeli citizens was reported.
A 22-year-old Palestinian who had been shot by Israeli forces during Friday night's unrest near the Gaza strip was declared dead the following morning. Police said the man had shot at security forces during a clash at a refugee camp.
Also on Saturday, a 16-year-old Palestinian in Jerusalem attacked and wounded two Israelis with a knife before being shot dead by police, one of several such incidents to have taken place over the past few days.
Concern is rising in Israel as the violence, at first concentrated primarily around Jerusalem and the West Bank, has begun spilling into Gaza. Earlier on Saturday, the AFP news agency reported that a rocket launched by Palestinian militants in Gaza had hit Israeli soil.
A statement from the Israeli army said "a rocket was launched at southern Israel" and was believed to have "landed in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries have been reported."
According to medics, around 80 people were also wounded in the clash which was the worst seen in the Gaza Strip since the summer 2014 conflict. Israel said its troops fired over the Gaza border after "a thousand rioters infiltrated the buffer zone," throwing "grenades, rocks and rolled burning tyres at soldiers."
Violence between Israelis and Palestinians has risen significantly since clashes broke out at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site late last month.
Four people were stabbed by a Jewish man in the southern Israeli city of Dimona on Friday. The victims - two Israeli Bedouins and two Palestinians - were taken to a hospital. The attack followed a a spate of stabbings directed at Israelis earlier in the week.
In an interview with a local radio station, Beni Biton, the mayor of Dimona, said the male suspect, who was taken into police custody, was "a mentally ill man."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also condemned the attack, vowing to bring justice to anyone who breaks the law, "no matter on what side it occurs."
Ismail Haniyeh, the Gaza-based leader of the Islamic militant group Hamas described the surge in violence as an "Intifada" or uprising. His comments contradicted recent remarks by Fatah’s leadership, including the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas.
Recent days have seen a series of stabbing attacks by young Palestinians who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians.
Around 5,000 Palestinians and 1,100 Israelis were killed in the two previous uprisings in 1987 and 2000. The first Intifada was a Palestinian uprising against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, which lasted from December 1987 until the Madrid Conference in 1991. The second began in September 2000 when Ariel Sharon made a visit to the Temple Mount, one of the most important religious sites in the Old City of Jerusalem. Palestinian demonstrators threw stones at police and were dispersed by the Israeli army, using tear gas and rubber bullets.
ksb/jm (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)