The IDF sent an extra battalion to Hebron on Saturday as it prepared for renewed Palestinian violence against Israelis, in the aftermath of five terrorist attacks over the weekend in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Two soldiers and four civilians were lightly wounded in the attacks, which occurred in Hebron, Kiryat Arba, at the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem and outside Ma’aleh Adumim. Four Palestinian assailants were killed and one was wounded.
The sudden spate of attacks comes at the end of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha and just before the High Holy Days, a period that marked the start of a months-long wave of violence last year.
The commander of the Judea and Samaria Division, Brig.-Gen. Lior Carmeli, visited the site of the attacks in Hebron and Kiryat Arba, and was briefed by battalion commanders.
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan blamed the sudden spike on Palestinian incitement on social media during the holiday period, when an increased number of Jews visit the Old City and the Temple Mount.
“These are tense days” in which there is a fear of increased violence, Erdan told Channel 2 on Friday.
He spoke just hours after a knife-wielding Jordanian terrorist was shot dead by border policemen in the afternoon near the Damascus Gate, after attempting to stab officers patrolling the sensitive area.
It’s the first time since the wave of violence began last September that one of the assailants has been from Jordan.
Jordanian Foreign Ministry spokesman Sabah al-Rifai said, “The Ministry of Foreign Affairs condemns the savage act of the Israeli occupation army in premeditatedly shooting Saed Amro, a Jordanian citizen, on Friday near the Damascus Gate in occupied Jerusalem, leading to his immediate death.”
The spokesman expressed doubt about the Israel Police narrative that Amro attacked Israeli soldiers, especially considering its announcement did not mention that he wounded any Israeli soldiers or police officers in the incident.
According to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, shortly after 1 p.m., the suspect, who was in the country from Jordan, charged police with one of three knives on his person.
“The suspect approached police officers, who were on standard security patrol at the Damascus Gate, drew a knife, shouted ‘Allahu akbar!’ and attempted to stab one of the officers,” said Rosenfeld.
“Fearing for their lives, the officers immediately opened fire, killing the suspect, who was found to have two more knives.”
None of the officers was wounded in the thwarted attack.
Rosenfeld said the area was immediately cordoned off, and an investigation determined that Amro illegally entered Israel via the Allenby Bridge one day earlier.
Later on Friday, a bus driver was lightly wounded while driving on Route 1 between Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim, when an Arab assailant threw a rock and canister of paint at the windshield, shattering it.
The suspect fled the scene, and the driver, who was able to safely stop the bus, was treated for glass cuts, Rosenfeld said.
On Saturday, a 15-year-old boy from the Isawiya neighborhood on Jerusalem’s Mount Scopus was arrested following an intensive search for the assailant.
“Police have heightened security throughout Jerusalem over the weekend as part of measures to prevent any further terrorist attacks,” said Rosenfeld.
Within an hour of the attack at the Damascus Gate on Friday, two Palestinian terrorists, a man and a woman, tried to run down a group of soldiers and civilians at the entrance to the Kiryat Arba settlement near Hebron.
The male assailant, Firas Khdour, was killed and the woman, Raghd Abdullah Khdour, was transported to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in serious condition from a bullet wound in her stomach. Both assailants were 18.
Magen David Adom evacuated to the same hospital three 15-year-old boys who were lightly wounded in the incident.
In a search of the attacker’s vehicle, soldiers found a knife.
Both the assailants came from the nearby Palestinian town of Bani Naim. The Palestinian terrorist who stabbed to death Hallel Yaffa Ariel, 13, as she slept in her bed in Kiryat Arba at the end of June, also came from Bani Naim.
Bani Naim Mayor Mahmoud Manasra said that the IDF has closed three entrances to the village and that a raid was carried out there on Saturday morning. He also said that there is a mourners’ tent in the village.
“I call for the lifting of the siege on Bani Naim and the end of this collective punishment, because there are 30,000 people who are not responsible for individual acts.”
“The siege is causing great economic damage,” Manasra said.
After the Kiryat Arba attack, a soldier was lightly wounded in a stabbing attack near the Tel Rumeida neighborhood of Hebron.
Soldiers shot and killed the assailant, who, according the Maan News Agency, was Muhammad al-Rajabi.
On Saturday morning, close to the same spot, a soldier was lightly wounded in another stabbing attack by Hatem Abed al-Hafiz Shaloudi, age 25.
The attack itself was caught on a security camera and was broadcast on the television and the Internet on Saturday night.
The video showed Shaloudi approaching the soldier at a checkpoint and handing him identity papers. Then, suddenly, he reached into his pocket, drew a knife and lunged at the soldier, attempting to stab him.
He then ran in the direction of another soldier. Within seconds, he was wrestled to the ground. He was shot and killed during the attack, but it is unclear from the video at which moment the shooting occurred.
Reached for comment after the event, Shaloudi’s family said, “The army executed him in cold blood.”
His brother, Aymen, said to Palestinian media that his brother worked at a factory in Hebron, and was supposed to start his shift at seven in the morning. Aymen added that the IDF searched the house and left.