Escalating Israeli-Palestinian tensions over the Holy Land’s most contested shrine boiled over into violence on Friday that killed six people – three Palestinians in street clashes in Jerusalem and three Israelis in a stabbing attack at a West Bank settlement.
After nightfall, a Palestinian sneaked into a home in the Israeli settlement of Halamish in the West Bank and stabbed to death three Israelis.
The military said the attacker apparently jumped over the fence and infiltrated the family’s home, surprising them as they ate the traditional Sabbath evening meal. It said the Palestinian killed a man and two of his children, while a woman was wounded and taken to hospital. The man’s grandchildren were present but not harmed, it said.
The army released footage showing a blood-covered kitchen floor. It said senior military officials are meeting overnight to discuss how to proceed.
A military spokesman called the Palestinian attack “a massacre.”
Israel TV’s Channel 10 said the assailant was in his late teens and had posted on Facebook that he was upset by the events at the Jerusalem shrine. Eli Bin, the head of Israel’s rescue service MDA, said an off-duty soldier next door heard screams, rushed to the home and shot the attacker through a window. Bin said the wounded attacker was taken to a hospital.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, announced he is freezing ties with Israel, dealing a blow to Trump administration efforts to try to renew peace talks.
Abbas said contacts with Israel would be suspended on “all levels.” It was not immediately clear if this means long-standing security coordination between Israeli troops and Abbas’ forces will be halted.
At issue in the current round of violence are metal detectors Israel installed at the Jerusalem shrine this week in response to an attack by Arab gunmen there.
The metal detectors are perceived by the Palestinians as an encroachment on Muslim rights and portrayed by Israel as a needed security measure following the attack that killed two Israeli policemen.
Earlier Friday, several thousand Palestinians in Jerusalem and the West Bank clashed with Israeli troops, burning tires or throwing stones and firecrackers. Troops fired live rounds, rubber bullets and tear gas. Three Palestinians were killed and several dozen hospitalized with live or rubber bullet injuries.