Israel boosts troops in West Bank after Palestinian attacks

JERUSALEM (AP) " The Israeli military sent troop reinforcements to a flashpoint West Bank area on Saturday following a weekend surge in Palestinian attacks that shattered weeks of relative calm.

The military said a Palestinian pulled out a knife during a security check in the West Bank city of Hebron earlier Saturday and stabbed a soldier, prompting forces to open fire and kill the attacker.

The incident came a day after what Israeli authorities said were several Palestinian attacks on Israeli civilians, police and a soldier.

In the first Friday attack, a man came out of Jerusalem's walled Old City brandishing a knife in each hand, police said. He then waved the knives in the air and shouted "Allahu akbar" " or "God is greatest" in Arabic " as he rushed at the officers, who opened fire and killed him. The man had both a Jordanian and a Palestinian ID on him, police said.

Shortly afterward, two Palestinians rammed their car into a bus stop, wounding three Israeli civilians near a West Bank settlement. Security forces opened fire, killing one of the Palestinians and wounding the other.

A few hours later, at a junction near Hebron, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli soldier, who opened fire and killed him, the military said.

Palestinians have carried out a wave of attacks, mainly stabbings, over the past year, killing 34 Israelis and two visiting Americans. More than 200 Palestinians have been killed during the same period, most of them identified by Israel as attackers.

Several of the attackers have hailed from Hebron, where around 850 Israeli settlers live in a heavily guarded enclave in the heart of a city of tens of thousands of Palestinians, with larger Jewish settlements on the city's outskirts. The military said late Saturday it was sending hundreds of troops to reinforce security in the area.

Israel has blamed the violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders. The Palestinians say it is rooted in nearly 50 years of military occupation and dwindling hopes for independence from Israeli rule.

The Palestinians, as well as Israeli and international rights groups, say Israel has at times used excessive force to subdue attackers.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, condemned what she called Israel's "extra-judicial killings" of the attackers but did not condemn the attacks themselves.

This story has been automatically published from the Associated Press wire which uses US spellings

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