A Palestinian assailant has fatally stabbed two Israelis and wounded a third in Tel Aviv. Separately, a Palestinian has killed two Israelis and an American in a shooting and car ramming incident in the West Bank.
Two Israeli men died after being stabbed by a knife-wielding Palestinian attacker in Tel Aviv, police and witnesses reported on Thursday. The attack took place in a shop that sells Jewish religious items, where people had gathered for afternoon prayers.
"We were in the middle of prayers ... a man fell upon us covered in blood, all cut up," eyewitness Shimon Vaknin told Israeli Channel 2 TV. He said the worshipers pushed against the shop door while the attacker attempted to break in.
An Israeli police spokeswoman, Luba Samri, said one of the dead was a man in his 20s, while the second man, believed to have been in his 50s, died of his injuries in a hospital. A third man was also injured in the attacks before civilians apprehended the assailant, Samri reported.
She also said the Palestinian perpetrator was Raed Khalil bin Mahmoud, a 36-year-old father of five from the West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron - where many of the recent attacks have taken place.
In a separate attack on Thursday, a gunman opened fire on traffic in the Gush Etzion settlement bloc on the West Bank. According to Israeli military, the attacker then "intentionally" drove his vehicle into a crowd of pedestrians. At least 8 people were injured and three died, including an 18-year-old American citizen.
Also on Thursday, three Palestinian women with knives were apprehended by Israeli soldiers as they attempted to infiltrate an Israeli military post in the West Bank, according to the military.
Wave of violence
So far, 16 Israelis and 82 Palestinians have been killed since mid-September. Israeli police maintain that 52 of the Palestinians died at the scene of attacks on Israelis, while the rest had been killed in conflicts with Israeli troops.
The latest wave of violence erupted due to tensions around a Jerusalem holy site known as the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, and as Temple Mount to Jews. Israel has said it has no plans to change the ban on non-Muslim prayer surrounding the Al-Aqsa mosque at the site; however, recent visits by ultranationalist Israeli politicians and Jewish activists to the site have unnerved Palestinians.
rs/jil (AP, AFP, dpa, Reuters)