JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli forces shot dead two Palestinians who stabbed and wounded an Israeli soldier in the occupied West Bank on Sunday, the army said, the latest attack in 12 weeks of heightened violence.
Almost daily Palestinian stabbings, car-rammings and shooting attacks have killed 20 Israelis and a U.S. citizen, raising fears of a wider escalation a decade after the last Palestinian uprising subsided.
Since the start of October, Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 130 Palestinians, 81 of whom authorities described as assailants. Most of the others have been killed in clashes with security forces.
In the latest fatal incident, the Israeli military said two Palestinians stabbed a soldier in the village of Hewara, near the West Bank city of Nablus.
“Forces on site responded to the imminent danger and fired toward the attackers, resulting in their death. An initial inquiry suggests an additional soldier was injured as a result of the fire directed toward the attackers,” the military said in a statement.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the two Palestinians were relatives, one aged 17 and the other, 23.
Earlier in the day, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded a soldier near Jerusalem’s main bus station. The assailant was overpowered by a security guard and arrested, police said.
The surge in violence has been fueled by Palestinians’ frustration over Israel’s 48-year occupation of land they seek for an independent state, and the expansion of settlements in those territories which were captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
Palestinian leaders say a younger generation sees no hope for the future living under Israeli security restrictions and with a stifled economy. The latest round of U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed in April 2014.
Violence has also been triggered by Muslim anger over stepped-up Israeli visits to Jerusalem’s al Aqsa mosque complex.
The site, Islam’s holiest outside Saudi Arabia, is also revered by many Jews as a vestige of their biblical temples.
Israeli leaders says Islamist groups who call for the destruction of Israel have played a major role in inciting the recent violence.
Writing by Jeffrey Heller, Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Andrew Bolton