JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Three Palestinians were shot dead after attacking Israeli soldiers with knives in the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, the military said, and an American-Israeli wounded in an attack two weeks ago died of his injuries, an Israeli hospital said.
Religious and political tensions over a Jerusalem site sacred to both Muslims and Jews have fuelled the worst wave of Israeli-Palestinian violence since the 2014 Gaza war.
The Israeli military said that soldiers had approached two Palestinians they found acting suspiciously at a junction near a Jewish settlement. When the suspects stabbed and wounded one of the soldiers, they were shot, the army said in a statement.
A military spokesman said they had been killed. Their families said they were 17 and 22 years old.
Hours later, the army said it had shot dead another Palestinian who tried to stab a soldier in the Palestinian city of Hebron.
Since Oct. 1, at least 59 Palestinians, 32 of whom Israel has said were armed assailants, have been shot dead by Israelis at the scene of attacks or during protests in the West Bank and in Gaza. Many of the attackers have been teenagers.
Many Palestinians say Israeli police and soldiers are using excessive force, while Israel says lethal force is justified against deadly threats.
Amnesty International said on Tuesday that it had found some of the killings of Palestinians had been unjustified, and that Israeli forces were using “extreme and unlawful measures”.
In a statement, the rights group said it had documented at least four cases in which Palestinians had been deliberately shot dead without posing an imminent threat, “in what appear to have been extrajudicial executions”.
The number of Israelis killed in Palestinian attacks rose to 11 after the death of American-Israeli Richard Lakin, 76, who had been wounded on Oct. 13 when two Palestinians staged a stabbing and shooting attack on a Jerusalem bus, killing two other passengers.
Israeli security forces shot dead one of the assailants and captured the other, police said.
Lakin, a former school principal in Glastonbury, Connecticut, moved to Israel in the early 1980s. A Facebook page that appeared to have been set up by his family said he had taught at an Arab-Jewish school that is a rare example of co-existence in Jerusalem.
Lakin’s death was announced by Jerusalem’s Hadassah hospital. The U.S. ambassador called it “devastating news”.
The focus of the Palestinian attacks appears to have shifted over the past few days from Jerusalem and cities across Israel to the Israeli-occupied West Bank, and their frequency has also declined.
But there has been no apparent action toward implementing a Jordanian proposal, promoted by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, to try to stem the bloodshed by installing cameras to monitor Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa mosque compound.
Increasing numbers of religious Jews visiting the compound, which is Islam’s holiest site outside Saudi Arabia and revered in Judaism as the location of two destroyed biblical temples, have led to Palestinian allegations that Israel is violating a “status quo” under which Jewish prayer there is banned.
Israel has pledged to abide by the long-standing arrangement.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Palestinian Authority complained of “continued assaults on sacred sites” and said Palestinians would press on with what it termed a “peaceful uprising” until Israel’s occupation of land captured in a 1967 war ended.
Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta and Maayan Lubell; Editing by Kevin Liffey