Since mid-November, one Israeli has been killed and ten wounded in a series of lone wolf attacks by Palestinians. In the recent car ramming, stabbing and shooting attacks took place in Jerusalem, Jaffa and the West Bank, only one of the assailants appeared to have a formal affiliation with a Palestinian militant group.
However, within days of the onset of the current wave of violence, the Shin Bet security service announced that it had arrested over 50 Hamas operatives suspected of planning terror attacks in the West Bank. The Shin Bet added that it had found a variety of weapons, including materials for assembling four explosive belts, a possible indication that the Palestinian terror group could be planning the first major escalation since this spring’s fighting in Gaza.
The current wave of attacks is reminiscent of a more serious period of lone wolf violence, dubbed by some the “stabbing intifada,” that began in October 2015 and lasted for about six months. It comes in the wake of a similar string of incidents which took place this September, with a number of assailants killed or wounded by security forces following stabbing attacks near the Lions' Gate and Chain Gate in Jerusalem's Old City, as near the city’s Central Bus Station and in Jaffa.
A 16-year-old Palestinian, identified in Palestinian reports as Omar Ibrahim Abu Asab, stabbed and wounded two Border Police officers – a 19-year-old woman and a 20-year-old man – next to a yeshiva founded by the pro-settler Ateret Cohanim organization on Hagai Street in Jerusalem's Old City. Both were taken to Hadassah University Hospital, Mt. Scopus in Jerusalem in moderate and light condition, respectively. Abu Asab was fatally shot at the scene.
The incident came on the heels of several rounds of clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces in the Old City this October, which, until that point, had constituted the heaviest violence in the area since widespread fighting between Arabs and Jews in towns throughout Israel this May.
Four days later, a Palestinian gunman, 42-year-old Fadi Abu Shkhaidem, opened fire at passersby with an automatic weapon in Jerusalem’s Old City. He killed Eliyahu David Kay, a 25-year-old immigrant from South Africa, who was on his way to pray at the Western Wall. Another victim of the shooting was evacuated to Shaare Zedek Medical Center with wounds to his upper body, while three others were taken to Hadassah Medical Center: a 46-year-old in a stable condition and two police officers, aged 30 and 31, who were lightly injured by shrapnel and later discharged.
Abu Shkhaidem, a Hamas member from East Jerusalem, was shot dead by security forces. An investigation did not find that he acted on orders from the organization, but rather carried out the attack by himself.
Later that day, an 18-year old Palestinian from the Jenin area, who was in Israel without a permit, was arrested on suspicion of stabbing a 67-year-old man in Jaffa. A preliminary investigation revealed a possible nationalist motive in the attack.
According to the early investigation, the assailant approached the victim and his partner who were walking on in Jaffa, stabbed the man and attempted to stab his partner as well, but failed and fled the scene. The victim was rushed to Wolfson Medical Center in Holon with five stab wounds.
Mohammed Shawkat Salameh, a 23-year-old Palestinian from Salfit, stabbed Avraham Elmaliah, a 21-year old ultra-Orthodox man, near Jerusalem’s Damascus Gate. Salameh was shot dead moments later, while attempting to stab a Border Police officer.
Brief clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli forces after the shooting, with police using stun grenades and other riot control measures.
Footage from the scene showed police shooting the suspect after he was already on the ground, garnering protests from Palestinians and left-wing Knesset members, some of whom accused law enforcement of engaging in an extralegal execution. The officers involved said that they feared the assailant was wearing an explosive belt or would try to stab them as well.
While the government has backed the officers, Israel also launched a probe into the fatal shooting and the officers involved were questioned.
A Palestinian teen rammed a car into a military checkpoint in the West Bank, moderately wounding a 34-year-old security guard.
The 16-year-old Palestinian, Muhammad Nadal Yunis of Nablus, was shot by another guard at the Jabara checkpoint, near the Palestinian town of Tul Karm. He was taken to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, where he was pronounced dead. The wounded guard was taken to Sheba Medical Center near Tel Aviv in serious but stable condition; he suffered injuries to his head, chest and limbs, but was conscious.
An initial Defense Ministry investigation of the incident found that the teen had gotten into an argument with his father. He then took his father’s car and rammed it at high speed over a sidewalk and through concrete protective barriers at the inspection post at the checkpoint, striking the guard.
After the attack, Defense Minister Benny Gantz ordered that security at West Bank checkpoints be increased. According to Palestinian sources, Israeli soldiers later raided Yunis's home.
An Israeli woman was lightly wounded in a suspected stabbing attack in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah.
Police later apprehended a Palestinian minor suspected of the attack. She was located in an educational institution near the scene of the stabbing.
The 26-year-old woman was taken to Hadassa University Hospital in Jerusalem. According to emergency service paramedics, the woman was taking her children to school when she was attacked. One of the paramedics said the woman said she had been stabbed by a young Arab woman.