Middle East

Palestinian attacks in Israel and West Bank kill five

Israeli police inspect the site of a stabbing attack in Tel Aviv on 19 November 2015 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The attack in Tel Aviv occurred as people worshipped at a shop serving as a synagogue

Five people have been killed in two attacks in Israel and the occupied West Bank, officials say.

In the first attack, two Israelis were stabbed to death by a Palestinian man at the entrance of a shop that serves as a synagogue in the city of Tel Aviv.

Later, a third Israeli, a Jewish American and a Palestinian were killed in an attack near a Jewish settlement.

A wave of violence over the past two months has claimed the lives of 15 Israelis and dozens of Palestinians.

Many of the Palestinian fatalities were knife-wielding attackers of Israelis, shot by their victims or security forces. Others have been killed in clashes with troops in the West Bank or in cross-border violence in Gaza.

Search for accomplices

Thursday's first attack took place in a busy commercial building on Ben Tzvi road in southern Tel Aviv.

Witness Shimon Vaknin told the Jerusalem Post newspaper that the afternoon prayer service had just begun at the shop when a man attacked a number of worshippers.

Image copyright Israeli Prime Minister's Office
Image caption Security officials said the Tel Aviv attacker was a 36-year-old man from the West Bank

Other worshippers then pushed the attacker outside the shop and barricaded the door shut, he said.

One of the victims, a man in his 20s, was declared dead at the scene by the Magen David Adom ambulance service. The second was rushed to Tel Aviv's Ichilov Hospital, but was pronounced dead on arrival.

The assailant, who security officials said was a 36-year-old man from the West Bank village of Dura, was reportedly lightly wounded and is in custody.

The militant Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas posted a tweet praising "the heroic attack in Tel Aviv", adding: "We ask the fighters to keep doing so."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption In the West Bank, an attacker opened fire at a junction and then crashed a car into pedestrians

Hours later, an attacker in a car opened fire at a busy junction and then crashed into a group of pedestrians, killing three people and injuring several others, the Israeli military said.

Two of the dead were identified as Jewish - an 18-year-old American tourist and a 50-year-old Israeli. The third was a Palestinian.

The military said the assailant was apprehended and was being questioned, while security forces were searching the area for possible accomplices.

The Tel Aviv attack was the first by a Palestinian on Israelis since Friday, when a rabbi and his son were shot dead south of the West Bank city of Hebron, according to the Haaretz newspaper.

The last attack in central Israel, it reports, was two-and-a-half weeks ago, when four people were stabbed and wounded in Rishon Lezion and Netanya.

The surge in violence began in September when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over, amid rumours that Israel planned to relax long-standing rules to strengthen Jewish rights at the complex. Israel has repeatedly denied such claims.