JERUSALEM (AP) — Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians after they rammed their cars into soldiers in separate attacks in the West Bank on Friday as the country's defense minister urged Israelis to brace themselves for more violence, saying he cannot see an end to the near-daily Palestinian attacks.
Friday's attacks, in which at least eight Israeli soldiers were injured, were the latest in over two months of bloodshed that erupted over tensions at a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, sacred to Jews and Muslims, and quickly escalated and spread to the West Bank, Israel and the Gaza border.
Since mid-September, 19 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings and shootings. At least 96 Palestinians have also died, including 61 said by Israel to be attackers. The others died in clashes with Israeli forces.
Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon told Israelis to be prepared for more attacks by Palestinians.
"This terror wave will accompany us in the coming days, the coming weeks and maybe longer than that," Yaalon said at a conference in the Red Sea resort of Eilat. "It might escalate and therefore we need to prepare," Yaalon was quoted as saying by the Army Radio's website.
In the first attack early Friday morning, police spokeswoman Luba Samri said a Palestinian intentionally drove his car into a group of Israeli soldiers at a bus stop in the West Bank, injuring two before he was shot and killed by soldiers.
Soon after, the military said a Palestinian rammed his car into Israeli soldiers near the volatile West Bank city of Hebron, injuring six before he was shot and killed. Soldiers later blocked off the main entrance to Beit Ummar, where the attack took place, preventing traffic from moving in or out in what the military said was a security measure. Other entrances remained open.
Later Friday, police said a Palestinian stabbed an officer with a knife and then ran away in the northern city of Nahariya. Israel's emergency service said the officer was stabbed in his upper body and moderately wounded. Searches for the assailant were continuing Friday night.
Hebron is the largest Palestinian city in the West Bank and a frequent flashpoint for violence. Many of the Palestinians involved in the current round of violence have come from there. Tensions have been running high in Hebron, where some 850 Jewish settlers live amid tens of thousands of Palestinians.
Israel blames the violence on incitement by Palestinian leaders and on social media sites. Palestinians say the attacks stem from a lack of hope for gaining independence after years of failed peace efforts.