Netanyahu promises action on 'wave of terror'

  • 09/10/2015
Israeil Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters)
Israeil Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Reuters)

By Mike Smith

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged firm action against what he called a mostly unorganised "wave of terror" plaguing Israel and the Palestinian territories.

The unrest has sparked fears that a third Palestinian uprising, or intifada, could erupt.

With a spate of stabbings deeply unnerving Israelis and riots rocking east Jerusalem and the West Bank, Netanyahu on Thursday vowed to pursue those "who stand behind" the attackers.

"We are in the midst of a wave of terror of knives, firebombs, stones and live fire," Netanyahu told reporters.

"These actions are mostly not organised, but they are all the result of wild and untruthful incitement from Hamas, from the Palestinian Authority, from several neighbouring counties and, no less, from the Islamic Movement in Israel."

Four new stabbings wounded Israelis on Thursday and one of the assailants was killed as the continuing attacks defied attempts by authorities to contain Palestinian unrest.

A Palestinian was also shot dead by Israeli security forces when clashes broke out in east Jerusalem as they went to search the home of one of the alleged attackers.

Authorities have struggled to prevent the stabbings, with the suspects often young Palestinians believed to be mainly acting on their own.

In Thursday's first attack, a Palestinian stabbed a 25-year-old Jewish man in Jerusalem, leaving him in serious condition. The 19-year-old assailant, identified as Subhi Abu Khalifah from Shuafat in east Jerusalem, was arrested.

Later in the day, an Israeli soldier and three passers-by were stabbed and lightly wounded in Tel Aviv and the attacker killed.

The suspect, who used a screwdriver, was shot dead by another soldier, said police, who identified him as Thaer Abu Ghazaleh, in his late teens.

In the third incident, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli near the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba in the West Bank, the military said. The victim was seriously wounded and the attacker fled.

An Arab also stabbed and wounded a soldier in the northern Israeli town of Afula before being captured, authorities said.

The stabbings began on Saturday when a Palestinian killed two Israelis in Jerusalem's Old City, prompting an Israeli security crackdown.

At the same time, violent demonstrations in east Jerusalem and the West Bank have seen youths throwing stones and firebombs face off against Israeli security forces firing rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.

Fresh clashes broke out at the Bet El checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Ramallah Thursday, as well as in Shuafat, where the Palestinian identified as 20-year-old Usama Faraj was killed by the Israelis.

Over the past week, four Israelis have died, along with seven Palestinians, four of them after alleged attacks on Israelis.

According to the Red Crescent, 86 Palestinians have been wounded by live fire and 344 by rubber bullets in clashes since October 2.

Authorities on both sides have wrestled with how to respond.

Far-right politicians are calling for forceful action and security officials, Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas have sought to avoid an escalation.