Palestinian assailant with knife shot dead in West Bank - Israeli army

  • World
  • Tuesday, 20 Sep 2016

Israeli security forces stand at the scene where a Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli soldier at the entrance to the West Bank village of Bani Na'im, near Hebron September 20, 2016. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

HEBRON, West Bank (Reuters) - A Palestinian who tried to stab an Israeli soldier was shot dead on Tuesday and an Israeli aircraft intercepted a drone launched by Hamas, the army said, as violence surges in the run-up to next month's Jewish new year holiday.

The attempted stabbing took place outside Bani Na'im, a village in the occupied West Bank near Hebron, the army said. The area has been secured by Israeli forces in recent months because of attacks by Palestinians from the area.

The Palestinian health ministry gave the assailant's age as 16.

His death raised to seven the number of alleged attackers - six Palestinians and a Jordanian - killed by the army since Friday, in incidents in which Israeli authorities said at least nine Israelis have been wounded.

The surge in violence coincides with preparations for the Jewish new year holiday starting on Oct. 2 and as the anniversary of the wave of attacks that began last October nears.

In the past year, at least 218 Palestinians have died in violent incidents in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. Of those, 147 were identified by authorities as assailants while others were killed during clashes and protests.

Palestinians, many acting alone and with rudimentary weapons, have killed at least 33 Israelis and two visiting Americans in the attacks.

Israel says anti-Israeli incitement by Palestinian officials and on social media networks is stoking attacks.

Palestinian leaders say assailants are acting out of desperation over the collapse in 2014 of peace talks and Israeli settlement expansion on occupied land that Palestinians seek for an independent state.

Hamas, the Islamist group that rules the Gaza Strip, declined to comment on the drone the Israeli army said had been intercepted off the coast of the enclave.

It was the first such incident reported since the 2014 Gaza war, when a U.S.-supplied Israeli Patriot missile destroyed an unmanned Hamas aircraft over the southern Israeli port city of Ashdod.

Palestinians have accused Israel of using excessive force and say that some of those killed over the past year posed no threat or had no intention of attacking anyone. In some cases, Israel has opened investigations into whether excessive force was used.

On Monday, Israeli forces killed two Palestinian assailants in the West Bank and two Israeli police officers were stabbed near the Old City of Jerusalem. [nL8N1BV31U]

(Writing by Luke Baker and Ori Lewis; Editing by Jeffrey Heller and John Stonestreet)

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