JERUSALEM: Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian near the barrier with the occupied West Bank on Sunday, while in Jerusalem a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli border police officer, adding to an upsurge in violence that has raised fears of a slide back into a wider Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The attacks came hours after Israeli forces caught two Palestinians who had snuck into Israel and killed three people in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish town of Elad on Israel’s Independence Day last Thursday.
Israel’s army said that the shooting of a Palestinian on Sunday occurred after “soldiers spotted a suspect who attempted to illegally cross the security fence” in the area of the West Bank town of Tulkarm.
“The soldiers operated to stop the suspect in accordance with standard operating procedures, using live fire,” according to an army spokesperson.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said the man was killed.
After the stabbing in Jerusalem on Sunday, police said border police officers at the scene shot the Palestinian attacker and that he and the victim were being treated for their wounds.
Separately, the killing of three people in Elad on Thursday had led to a three-day manhunt by Israeli forces for two axe-wielding assailants who had run through the town, some 15 km (nine miles) north of Tel Aviv.
The two men were captured on Sunday in a forest near Elad, the Israeli army said. They have been identified by Israel as residents of a village near the Palestinian city of Jenin in the West Bank.
Photos of the two, who appeared to be unhurt, and of Israeli security men with guns pointed at their hiding place, were carried by Israeli news websites after they were taken into custody.
Since March Palestinians and members of Israel’s Arab minority have killed 18 people, including three police officers and a security guard, in attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have mostly targeted civilians.
Israel has carried out arrest raids in Palestinian towns and villages which have often sparked clashes and brought the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year to at least 41.
The casualties include armed members of militant groups, lone assailants and bystanders.
Hamas, the group that controls Gaza, praised the Elad assault. It said the attack was a response to Israeli actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.
Over the past month, Palestinians and Israeli police have repeatedly clashed at the sensitive complex.
Palestinians and Jordan, the custodian of the site that is the third-holiest in Islam, accuse Israel of not doing enough to enforce a long-standing ban on non-Muslim prayer there, which Israel denies.
The compound is Judaism’s holiest site and the vestige of two ancient Jewish temples.
Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in a 1967 Middle East War. Palestinians seek these territories for a future state.