Baz Ratner / Reuters

Palestinian-Israeli unrest continues with clashes, spate of stabbings

Two Palestinians killed, several Israelis stabbed as tensions remain high in Israel and the occupied territories

Two Palestinians were killed and more than 200 others injured, while several Israelis were wounded in a series of stabbing attacks, on Thursday, amid high tensions after a week of protests and clashes in the occupied territories.

A Palestinian man was shot dead after allegedly stabbing an Israeli soldier and four others with a screwdriver in Tel Aviv, according to local media reports.

In a separate incident, a Palestinian teenager, from a refugee camp in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Shu'fat, allegedly stabbed a Yeshiva student. The Israeli was stabbed in his upper body at Ammunition Hill, according to local reports. Police said the victim was in serious condition. The alleged attacker has been "apprehended and he is being questioned," Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told Al Jazeera.

While attempting to enter the home of the stabbing suspect in Shu'fat, Israeli forces clashed with Palestinian residents, killing one and injuring several others. 

Local media also reported that a Palestinian suspect stabbed and seriously injured an Israeli in Kiryat Arba, a settlement near Hebron. The Israeli army said it has launched search efforts to find the suspect.

A soldier was also injured in another stabbing attack in the Israeli city of Afula.

Seven days of protests and clashes in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have seen Palestinian youths throwing stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli forces firing rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.

In the past week, four Israelis and seven Palestinians have been killed in the ongoing violence. The unrest has sparked fears of a broader uprising.

The recent surge in violence was sparked by increased restrictions on Palestinian access to Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem and spread after two attacks allegedly perpetrated by Palestinians killed two Israelis in East Jerusalem and two Israeli settlers in the West Bank. Israeli settlers rioted after those killings, assaulting Palestinians and destroying their property.

Palestinian protesters are calling for unrestricted access to worship at Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third-holiest site in Islam. Jews revere the site as the location of two ancient temples. Demonstrators also want Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories and cease settlement building, both of which are illegal under international law.

Israeli authorities have wrestled with how to respond, with far-right politicians calling for forceful action and some officials seeking to avoid an escalation.

An incident on Wednesday seemed to offer a rare glimpse of an Israeli undercover operation, when masked infiltrators among a group of Palestinian stone-throwers suddenly pulled out pistols and opened fire as rocks flew towards them.

The incident, captured on video by an Agence France-Presse journalist, saw three Palestinians wounded, including one critically from a gunshot wound to the back of the head. Some Israeli mayors, including the mayor of Jerusalem, went as far as to encourage residents who own guns to carry them around with them. 

Israeli and Palestinian officials reportedly met for security talks in the West Bank on Tuesday evening, and there have been international calls for calm.

Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has barred members of parliament and ministers from visiting the Al-Aqsa compound.

Provocative visits by Israeli Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel as well as by Israeli lawmakers of Palestinian origin have added to the volatility. Palestinian lawmakers in Israel have vowed to defy the order and visit the compound on Friday, when many Muslims attend prayers at Al-Aqsa.

Al Jazeera and wire services

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