Middle East

Four Palestinian attackers killed by Israeli troops

Israeli soldiers guard the Gush Etzion junction in West Bank. 5 Jan 2016 Image copyright AP
Image caption The Gush Etzion junction has been the scene of previous attacks

Four Palestinians have been shot dead after trying to stab Israeli soldiers in two incidents in the occupied West Bank, Israel's military says.

Three attackers were killed at Gush Etzion Junction, where similar incidents have occurred, and the fourth was killed near Hebron, the army said.

No soldiers were injured. Palestinian health officials confirmed the deaths.

It is the latest in a wave of attacks, mainly stabbings, by Palestinians on Israelis since the start of October.

"Three attackers, armed with knives, attempted to stab soldiers guarding the Gush Etzion junction," an Israeli military statement said.

Palestinian media named the three as Muhanad Kawazbeh, 20, Ahmed Kawazbeh, 21, and Alaa Kawazbeh, 20, all from the village of Sair, north-east of Hebron.

Shortly afterwards, a Palestinian was shot while he tried to stab soldiers near Hebron, an Israeli statement said.

He was later named as Khalil Shalalda, 16, also from Sair.

The Islamist group, Hamas, which controls Gaza, has called for a "day of rage" on Friday in response to the Palestinian deaths.

Twenty-two Israelis have been killed in attacks including stabbings, car rammings and shootings since 1 October.

The Palestinian health ministry says 149 Palestinians have been killed in that time. More than half were said by Israel to be attackers. Others have been killed in clashes with Israeli forces.

The surge in violence began in September when tensions at a flashpoint holy site in Jerusalem revered by Jews and Muslims boiled over.

Most of the attacks have been carried out by individuals not known to have been acting on direct orders from militant groups.

Israel says Palestinian incitement has fuelled the attacks. The Palestinian leadership has blamed frustration rooted in decades of Israeli occupation.