JERUSALEM: Israel has struggled to curb a spate of violence that has raised fears of a full-blown uprising, with more knife attacks shaking Jerusalem despite moves to set up checkpoints in Palestinian neighborhoods and mobilize hundreds of soldiers.
As the surge in violence entered its third week on Thursday, Washington said it would send US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Middle East soon to seek to calm tensions.
The unrest has sparked fears of a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising, like those of 1987-1993 and 2000-2005, when hundreds of people were killed in near daily violence.
The first of Wednesday’s attacks occurred when a man, reportedly a 20-year-old from the West Bank city of Hebron, tried to stab a security guard at an entrance to the Old City but was shot dead before harming anyone.
The other saw a 23-year-old Palestinian stab and wound a woman of around 70 near the crowded central bus station during rush hour before being shot dead by police, sparking panic among commuters.
With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu under immense pressure to halt the violence and frustrated Palestinian youths defying attempts to restore calm, police said 300 Israeli soldiers were joining their patrols.
The government also announced further tough measures, including easing firearms laws for Israelis and stripping alleged attackers from east Jerusalem of their residency permits.
In his first address since the violence began, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said in televised remarks that he supported “peaceful and popular” struggle against Israel.
The move to install checkpoints followed a decision by Netanyahu’s security cabinet authorizing police to seal off or impose a curfew on parts of Jerusalem.