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High alert in Israel after Palestinian deaths

Jerusalem: Tensions are soaring across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as stabbing attacks and violent confrontations between protesters and soldiers continue to build momentum, despite calls from leaders on both sides for de-escalation.

According to medics in Gaza, six Palestinians have been shot dead and many more injured after Israeli forces opened fire on a demonstration along Gaza’s border fence.

The Red Crescent has reported that hundreds of Palestinians across the West Bank have also been injured during clashes with Israeli military and police at flashpoint in Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. It comes as the series of knife attacks targeting Israelis shows no signs of abating.

The recent wave of stabbings began last Saturday night when two Israeli men were murdered in the Old City of Jerusalem by a 19- year-old Palestinian law student.

On Friday morning In Jerusalem, a Palestinian used a vegetable peeler to stab a 14-year-old Israeli boy in Jerusalem, leaving him with minor injuries.

Outside the West Bank Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba a Palestinian man attacked an off-duty police officer with a knife and tried to grab his gun. The officer suffered minor injuries and killed his attacker.

In the northern city of Afula, a 29-year-old Arab-Israeli woman tried to stab a bus station security guard before she was shot by police and died shortly afterwards. It follows another stabbing of a soldier in the same town on Thursday night, which prompted crowds of Jewish youths to chant ‘death to Arabs’ in the streets.

In the southern city of Dimona, two people from the country's Bedouin minority and two Palestinians were injured after being stabbed by an Israeli man who said his attacks were revenge for those made by Palestinians this week, according to Israeli media.

Dimona's mayor Beni Bitton said the attacker was "mentally ill" and told Channel 10 TV that bystanders had rushed to help the wounded.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has "strongly condemned" the "harming of innocent Arabs", adding that anyone using violence would be brought to justice.

In a press conference on Thursday night, Netanyahu insisted Israel was facing ‘wave of terrorist attacks’ and vowed to bring the violence under control and restore security. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has urged against further violence.

However, in a speech during the Friday prayers, Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas, the armed Palestinian Islamist group who control the Gaza Strip, welcomed the violence against Israelis, declaring his support for what he described as an ‘intifada’.

The recent increase in attacks has resulted in a massive deployment of Israeli and police across the country and throughout the West Bank. Security measures in Jerusalem have included restricting Palestinian men aged under 45 being barred from entering al Aqsa mosque.

Metal detectors have also been set up at the entrance to Jerusalem's Old City. There has been a sharp rise in tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank since late last month, when clashes erupted over a dispute over access to the Al Aqsa mosque compound, known to Muslims as the Haram al Sharif, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.