Knife, car attacks in West Bank wound 6, attackers shot

Jerusalem (AFP) - Car-ramming and stabbing attacks wounded six Israelis in the West Bank on Sunday while two alleged Palestinian assailants were shot, authorities said, the latest in a weeks-long wave of violence.

While violence had waned somewhat in recent days, the new attacks signalled that knife, gun and car assaults that began at the start of October were set to continue despite tough Israeli security measures.

The latest unrest came as Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu left for Washington on Sunday to meet US President Barack Obama.

In the first incident, a Palestinian rammed a group of Israelis with a car at a junction, wounding four of them, and was then killed by security forces, police said.

The alleged attacker was said to have driven the car into an area south of Nablus where Israelis typically gather to hitch rides. A checkpoint is located nearby and Israeli border police opened fire.

Israeli public radio described two of the injured as in a serious condition.

Later, a Palestinian woman stabbed a security guard near a West Bank settlement and was shot by the victim, the Israeli police and army said.

The incident occurred at the entrance to the Beitar Illit settlement south of Jerusalem. A hospital spokeswoman described the woman's condition as serious and said she was being treated in intensive care.

The guard was lightly wounded.

The third incident saw an Israeli settler stabbed while shopping in the West Bank village of Nabi Elias, with two alleged Palestinian assailants fleeing afterwards, the Israeli defence ministry said.

The victim, aged around 50, was stabbed in the stomach but managed to drive to a nearby checkpoint and was taken for medical treatment, authorities said. He lives in the Immanuel settlement in the West Bank.

Police said on Sunday night that a border policeman gravely injured in a Palestinian ramming attack near the West Bank city of Hebron on November 4 died in hospital.

- 'Stabilising the situation' -

Attacks since the start of October have left 73 Palestinians dead, around half of them alleged attackers. Ten Israelis and one Arab Israeli have also been killed.

Violent protests have also erupted in annexed east Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Unrest had appeared to be declining over the past few days, but several attacks on Friday as well as clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinians shattered the lull.

Much of the violence has been in the West Bank city of Hebron, where two Israelis were shot and wounded on Friday at a flashpoint holy site.

On Sunday, there was also violence across southern Israel's border with Gaza, controlled by the militant Islamic group Hamas.

A rocket fired from the Palestinian enclave slammed into open ground in Israel, but caused no apparent casualties, the Israeli army said in a statement.

Netanyahu's meeting with Obama will centre on US defence aid to Israel following the July nuclear accord between major powers and Iran, but the violence between Israelis and Palestinians is also expected to be discussed.

At a cabinet meeting on Sunday, Netanyahu said he will discuss with Obama "possible progress with the Palestinians, or at least stabilising the situation with them, and, of course, strengthening the security of the state of Israel".

Haaretz newspaper reported on Sunday that during his meeting with Obama Netanyahu planned to unveil measures to calm tensions in the West Bank, and that these may include removing some checkpoints and easing certain restrictions on movement.

US officials say, however, that Obama has lost any hope of a final peace accord being reached between Israelis and Palestinians before he leaves office in January 2017, and sees meaningful negotiations as unlikely before then.

Many of the attacks have been carried out by young Palestinians fed up with Israel's occupation and who appear to be acting on their own. They have defied calls for peaceful resistance from Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.