West Bank – A Palestinian attacker stabbed an Israeli army officer in the chest near a West Bank settlement Sunday and moderately wounded him, before Israeli soldiers shot the attacker and apprehended him, the military said.
Local officials said the attacker had tried to infiltrate the settlement of Efrat and a manhunt was underway before he pounced on the officer and stabbed him. The incident followed a weekend surge in Palestinian attacks that shattered weeks of relative calm.
Four Palestinian attackers were shot dead after carrying out attacks on Israelis over the weekend. The spike in violence has spurred the Israeli military to send troop reinforcements to the West Bank.
The Palestinian assaults began a year ago and for months included near-daily stabbing attacks against soldiers and settlers. They have killed 34 Israelis and two Americans, with about 214 Palestinians killed during that same period. Israel says the vast majority were attackers.
But in recent months they have slowed to a trickle. After a series of stabbing and vehicular attacks, the military sent additional troops Saturday to a flashpoint West Bank area.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the potential for violence could rise at the Jewish high holidays approach.
“The security forces are on heightened alert and I will meet with them today in order to ensure that we will be ready to defend our people during this sensitive period,” he said at his weekly Cabinet meeting.
Israel has blamed the violence on incitement by Palestinian political and religious leaders. The Palestinians say it is rooted in nearly 50 years of military occupation and dwindling hopes for independence.