JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli troops shot dead a Palestinian during clashes on Tuesday in the occupied West Bank, a day after Palestinian assailants fatally stabbed an Israeli soldier and a woman in attacks that raised fears of a new uprising.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel would seek to crush the spiraling violence by meting out stiffer punishments, deploying more forces and destroying assailants’ homes.
“We have defeated terrorism until now and shall do so again,” Netanyahu said in nationally televised remarks after consulting with security chiefs.
The military said soldiers killed a 21-year-old Palestinian man at a refugee camp after coming under attack by a crowd hurling petrol bombs and stones. Residents said he was on his roof, away from the clashes when he was shot.
Confrontations also erupted in at least two other West Bank areas, where the army said soldiers shot and wounded two Palestinians.
Israeli Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said “it’s clear there is an escalation”, but that the violence was not organised and it was not clear if it would lead to an Intifada, like the last Palestinian revolt that began in 2001 and died down in 2005.
“We’re not seeing masses pouring into the street. We’re seeing, in certain places, young people using grassroots terrorism and lone attackers,” Yaalon told reporters.
With the rise in violence, Israelis wondered if they would again have to worry about security in their daily lives.
“This is the same soundtrack we all remember from the days of the Intifada: you haven’t had time to come to terms with the morning’s terror attack and you’re already wallowing in the next one,” military affairs analyst Alex Fishman wrote in the Yedioth Ahronot daily.
The last Palestinian uprising brought a surge in suicide bombings in Israel and crushing military operations in Palestinian cities.
The new bloodshed has been fuelled by tension over Israeli-controlled access to Jerusalem’s holiest site, revered by Muslims as Noble Sanctuary, where al-Aqsa mosque stands, and by Jews as the mount where Biblical Temples once stood.
“We ask you (Israel) to keep settlers and extremists far away from al-Aqsa mosque and our holy places,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday, following recent visits to the site by far-right legislators. “Keep them away from us and we’ll stay away from them.”
Last week, a Palestinian rammed his car into pedestrians in central Jerusalem, the second such incident at a light railway station in as many weeks.
Additional reporting by Allyn Fisher-Ilan, Maayan Lubell and Noah Browning; Editing by Ralph Boulton