Five die in new spate of attacks by Palestinians
Published 20/11/2015 | 02:30
A pair of attacks by Palestinians has killed five people, intensifying a two month-long wave of violence.
Much of the recent unrest has focused on the West Bank city of Hebron, a frequent flashpoint. But the attack in Israel's economic hub of Tel Aviv returned the violence to the Israeli heartland, shattering a lull that had set in outside of the West Bank and stoking Israeli fears that a fully-fledged Palestinian uprising could erupt.
Israel has beefed up security across the country in recent weeks in light of the attacks, sending soldiers to patrol cities alongside thousands of police.
It has set up checkpoints and concrete barriers in Arab areas of east Jerusalem, where many of the attackers have come from. Still, authorities have failed to halt the spontaneous attacks.
A knife-wielding Palestinian man fatally stabbed two Israeli men in a southern Tel Aviv office building before being apprehended, police said.
Later in the day, authorities said three people were killed and six wounded in a shooting and vehicle attack in the West Bank. That attack killed three people, including an 18-year-old American and an Israeli. Among the dead was a Palestinian man, but police said it was not clear if he was hit by the attacker's fire or that of Israeli forces.
Police said the stabbing took place in a shop on the second floor of an expansive office building where a group of Israelis had gathered to hold afternoon prayers.
Witness Shimon Vaknin said a bloodied man stumbled into the room where he prayed with companions in Tel Aviv.
"He was stabbed outside, he was all slashed and bloody. We were in shock. We didn't know what happened and then someone near the door shouted there's a terrorist," Mr Vaknin said.
He described a dramatic stand-off with the worshippers standing against the closed shop door as the assailant tried to force his way in.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the attacker was apprehended by civilians and identified him as Raed Khalil bin Mahmoud, a 36-year-old Palestinian father of five from the West Bank village of Dura, near Hebron.
It was not clear what he was doing in Tel Aviv, although many Palestinians have permits to work in Israel. Israeli Channel 2 TV said the man worked illegally at a nearby restaurant.
In the West Bank attack, police said the shooter opened fire on an Israeli car from his vehicle. The Israeli military said the vehicle fled the scene and the driver "intentionally" rammed the vehicle into pedestrians.