Israeli woman killed as more violence hits West Bank

Jerusalem (AFP) - Attacks involving knives and a car-ramming in the occupied West Bank on Sunday left an Israeli woman dead, while all the assailants were killed when security forces and civilians intervened.

Three attacks, including one by a teenage girl, were the latest in a nearly two-month wave of violence that had shown signs of subsiding last week before a new series of assaults took place on Thursday.

With the violence defying international efforts to restore calm, US Secretary of State John Kerry is to travel to Israel and the West Bank to meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Tuesday.

On Sunday, Netanyahu reiterated that the attackers appeared to be acting on their own, posing a challenge to security forces.

"This is not terrorism by organisations," he said at the start of a cabinet meeting.

"This is terrorism by individuals, occasionally with kitchen knives, who are incited mainly by social media. It is very difficult to hermetically prevent the arrival of such knife-wielding, or other, terrorists to this or that place."

He said "citizens must be on maximum alert".

No Israelis were reported seriously injured in the first two attacks, but the third led to the death of 20-year-old Hadar Bukris, who was taken to hospital with major stab wounds to her head and chest.

- Teenage attacker -

Sunday's first attack saw a 16-year-old Palestinian girl who tried to stab an Israeli civilian run over by a Jewish settler and then shot dead by soldiers.

The Israeli military said in a statement that the attack was at a junction south of Nablus.

Palestinian security officials confirmed the alleged attacker had died of her wounds and identified her as Asheraqat Qatanani from Askar refugee camp near Nablus.

A Jewish settler in the area, Gershon Mesika, told army radio he hit the assailant with his car before a soldier shot her.

Later, a Palestinian driving a taxi tried to run over civilians and then charged at them with a knife before a civilian shot him dead, police said.

The statement provided no further details on the civilian. A hospital spokeswoman said a 51-year-old Israeli was lightly injured when hit by the taxi.

Also in the West Bank, near the Gush Etzion block of settlements south of Jerusalem, the young Israeli woman was stabbed and the Palestinian attacker was shot dead by security forces afterwards, police said.

Israel's Shin Bet security agency identified the attacker as Issam Thawabteh, 34, from Beit Fajjar near Bethlehem.

The wave of violence since October 1 that has left 89 dead on the Palestinian side, including one Arab Israeli, as well as 16 Israelis, an American and an Eritrean.

Many of the Palestinians killed have been alleged attackers.

- 'Focus on Hebron' -

Violence shattered a nearly week-long lull on Thursday when knife, gun and car-ramming attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank killed five people, including an American, three Israelis and a Palestinian.

It was one of the deadliest days since the violence first erupted in October.

On Friday, dozens of Palestinians were wounded by Israeli fire in clashes in the West Bank and along the Gaza Strip border, while on Saturday, police arrested a Palestinian who allegedly stabbed four Israelis in the southern city of Kiryat Gat.

The Shin Bet on Sunday identified the alleged assailant as Mohammad Tarda, 18, from a village near southern West Bank city Hebron.

Netanyahu said he had ordered security forces to "coordinate their efforts in the Hebron district, from which most or all of the attacks are originating".

The army said they had arrested eight Palestinians in the Hebron area overnight.

Palestinian security forces said 16 were arrested, and residents said many roadblocks were set up at exits from the city and at villages in the area.

Kerry's trip will be his latest attempt to ease tensions, having met Netanyahu in Washington this month and in Berlin in October.

He also met Abbas in Amman last month as well as Jordan's King Abdullah II, and endorsed a plan to install security cameras around the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem.

Clashes in September between Israeli police and Palestinians at the highly sensitive compound, sacred to both faiths and which Jews revere as the Temple Mount, preceded the current wave of violence.

US officials said they were not expecting to strike any new agreement on a return to peace talks during Kerry's visit, and would simply try to walk the parties back from the immediate violence.