Israel: Assailant opens fire on bus station, soldier killed

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JERUSALEM (AP) -- An Arab attacker armed with a gun and a knife opened fire in a southern Israel bus station on Sunday, police said, killing an Israeli soldier and wounding 10 people in one of the boldest attacks yet in a monthlong wave of violence.

The attack came as Israel further tightened security around the country, highlighted by the construction of a barrier separating Jewish and Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. In a bid to halt the fighting, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he would meet the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the coming days.

Israel has deployed thousands of police, backed up by troops, to maintain order following a spate of attacks, mostly stabbings, by Palestinian assailants. Those measures have so far failed to stop the violence.

In Sunday night's attack, police said the Arab assailant entered the central bus station in the southern city of Beersheba and began shooting and stabbing people. They said an Israeli soldier was killed, five police were lightly wounded and five civilians were wounded to varying degrees.

Yoram Halevy, a police commander in southern Israel, told reporters that in addition to the knife and gun he entered with, the attacker also snatched a weapon from the soldier he killed.

The attacker, whose identity was not immediately known, was shot and killed.

A foreigner was shot by police during the attack after they apparently mistook him for an assailant. Halevy said security forces responding to the attack entered the bus station from another area and saw a "foreign national," shooting and wounding him.

Israeli media said the foreigner was an Eritrean national living in Israel.

Israeli media showed footage of a blood-streaked floor and rows of ambulances outside the bus station. Security camera footage from the bus station aired on Israeli TV showed what appeared to be a civilian shooting the attacker as soldiers and civilians crouched for cover nearby.

The attack was one of the most serious incidents amid near-daily bouts of violence that has hit Israel and the Palestinian territories over the past month. After the attack, a crowd of Israelis gathered outside the bus station and chanted "death to Arabs."

The unrest erupted in Jerusalem a month ago over tensions surrounding a Jerusalem holy site sacred to Jews and Muslims. It soon spread to Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem and then to the West Bank, Gaza and Israel.

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Israel: Assailant opens fire on bus station, soldier killed
Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes, after the funerals of Ahmed Abu al-Aish, 28, and Laith Manasrah, 21, from Qalandia refugee camp, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Two Palestinians were killed and three wounded in clashes with Israeli troops early Monday in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Jerusalem area, a Palestinian health official said. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians carry an injured man during clashes with Israeli troops, after the funerals of Ahmed Abu al-Aish, 28, and Laith Manasrah, 21, from Qalandia refugee camp, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Monday, Nov. 16, 2015. Two Palestinians were killed and three wounded in clashes with Israeli troops early Monday in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Jerusalem area, a Palestinian health official said. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Israeli troops fire tear gas during clashes with Palestinian demonstrators near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. Tensions and violence have been mounting in recent weeks, in part fueled by Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to expand its presence at a major Muslim-run shrine in Jerusalem, a claim Israel has denied. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians carry an injured man during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 2015. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for calm during a surprise visit to Jerusalem on Tuesday ahead of meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders, in a high-profile gambit to bring an end to a monthlong wave of violence.(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians burn tires during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 16, 2015. Tensions and violence have been mounting in recent weeks, in part fueled by Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to expand its presence at a major Muslim-run shrine in Jerusalem, a claim Israel has denied.(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Israeli border police check Palestinian woman ID next to newly placed concrete blocks in east Jerusalem neighborhood, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. Israel erected checkpoints and deployed several hundred soldiers in the Palestinian areas of the city Wednesday as it stepped up security following a series of attacks in Jerusalem. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
A Palestinian hurls a stone during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Violence quickly spread across Israel and into the West Bank and Gaza Strip after clashes erupted last month over tensions regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. Clashes continued Wednesday between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters in West Bank cities. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Palestinian protester throws back a tear gas canister that was fired by Israeli troops during clashes near Ramallah, West Bank, Thursday, Oct. 15, 2015. In the current wave of violence, eight Israelis have been killed in stabbing and shooting attacks, as of Thursday. Thirty-one Palestinians have been killed, including 14 identified by Israel as attackers, and the others in clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli troops. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Palestinian swings a sling during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. Violence quickly spread across Israel and into the West Bank and Gaza Strip after clashes erupted last month over tensions regarding the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City. Clashes continued Wednesday between Israeli troops and Palestinian protesters in West Bank cities. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinian mourners carry the body of Moataz Zawahara, who was killed in clashes with Israeli troops, during his funeral in Deheisha refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Two Palestinian women mourn during the funeral of Moataz Zawahara, who was killed in clashes with Israeli troops, at the family house in Deheisha refugee camp, near the West Bank city of Bethlehem, Wednesday, Oct. 14, 2015. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
Palestinians carry a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli soldiers securing the entrance of the Erez border crossing between Gaza Strip and Israel, in the northern Gaza Strip, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Palestinian's try to help a demonstrator who accidentally set his scarf on fire during clashes with Israeli troops in the West Bank city of Hebron. Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks Tuesday that escalated a monthlong wave of violence. Three Israelis and two attackers were killed. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men gather around the body of Yeshayahu Kirshavski during his funeral in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks Tuesday. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
JERUSALEM, ISRAEL - OCTOBER 13: (ISRAEL OUT) In this handout from the Israeli GPO, Ultra Orthodox ZAKA volunteers and security forces attend the scene of an attack at a bus stop in Malchei Yisrael Street on October 13, 2013 in Jerusalem, Israel. Multiple terror attacks have occurred in Jerusalem and central Israel leaving at least three Israelis dead and many others injured, escalating a monthlong wave of violence between Israel and the Palestinians. (Photo by Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO via Getty Images)
Israeli Zaka volunteers carry a body following a shooting attack on a bus in an east Jerusalem Jewish settlement adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber on October 13, 2015. Two attackers opened fire on a bus while another assailant carried out a car and knife assault in Jerusalem, leaving two people dead and five wounded in two separate incidents, Israeli authorities said. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEX (Photo credit should read THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members carry the body of a Palestinian at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli Zaka volunteers carry the body of an Israeli victim following a Palestinian shooting attack on a bus in the east Jerusalem Jewish settlement of Armon Hanatsiv, adjacent to the Palestinian neighbourhood of Jabal Mukaber, on October 13, 2015. Two Palestinian attackers opened fire on a bus while another assailant carried out a car and knife assault in Jerusalem, leaving two people dead and five wounded in two separate incidents, Israeli authorities said. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON (Photo credit should read GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images)
An Israeli police officer inspects the body of a Palestinian at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)
Israeli security forces inspect the scene after a Palestinian man drove into a bus stop and carried out a stabbing attack in a Jerusalem ultra-Orthodox Jewish neighbourhood on October 13, 2015. The Jerusalem attack came after a Palestinian stabbed and wounded a passerby north of Tel Aviv before being restrained by civilians in the area. AFP PHOTO / GIL COHEN-MAGEN (Photo credit should read GIL COHEN MAGEN/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli medics carry a wounded person at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members stand next to the body of an Israeli victim at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a monthlong wave of violence. Two Israelis and one attacker were killed. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty)
Palestinians uses a handmade large slingshot to hurl a stone during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. Recent days have seen a series of stabbing attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have wounded several Israelis. Past weeks have also seen violent demonstrations in the West Bank and Gaza, and at least 16 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A lawyer wearing his official robes kicks a tear gas canister back toward Israeli soldiers during a demonstration by scores of Palestinian lawyers called for by the Palestinian Bar Association in solidarity with protesters at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, near Ramallah, West Bank, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. In recent weeks, at least 25 Palestinians, including nine attackers, have been killed by Israeli forces, while five Israelis have been killed in attacks. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Mourners take a last at look the body of Palestinian teenager Ahmad Sharaka, 13, who was shot dead by Israeli military forces during clashes at a checkpoint near Ramallah on Sunday, at the family house during his funeral in the Palestinian West Bank refugee camp of Jalazoun, Ramallah, Monday, Oct. 12, 2015. On Sunday, Ramallah Government Hospital director Ahmed Bitawi said Ahmad Sharaka was shot dead by three live bullets to the head, neck and chest. The Israeli military had no immediate comment. (AP Photo/Nasser Nasser)
An injured Palestinian demonstrator is helped during clashes at the Hawara checkpoint near of the West Bank city of Nablus, Sunday, Oct. 11, 2015. Tensions in he West Bank continued with near-daily violent demonstrations. At least 45 Palestinians were wounded by live bullets in clashes between university students and Israeli forces at the military checkpoint near Nablus on Sunday, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed al-Jaabari during his funeral in Hebron Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. al-Jaabari was killed after he attacked an Israeli policeman outside Kiryat Arba settlement Friday, according to Israeli police. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Palestinians run from tear gas fired by Israeli troops during clashes near Ramallah, West Bank, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. Palestinians carried out two stabbing attacks in Jerusalem on Saturday before being shot dead by police, the latest in a series of stabbing attacks against civilians and soldiers that have spread across Israel and the West Bank in the past week. The violence, including the first apparent revenge attack by an Israeli Friday and increasing protests by Israel's own Arab minority, has raised fears of the unrest spiraling further out of control. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians take cover during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Recent days have seen a string of attacks by young Palestinians with no known links to armed groups who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating Israeli efforts to contain the violence, which has been linked to tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Israeli security forces deploy a water canon during clashes with Palestinians near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Recent days have seen a string of attacks by young Palestinians with no known links to armed groups who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating Israeli efforts to contain the violence, which has been linked to tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
A Palestinian is pushed an Israeli policemen amid clashes in Hebron, West Bank, Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. A Palestinian teenager stabbed two Israelis in Jerusalem Saturday before being shot dead by police forces, the latest in a series of stabbing attacks against civilians and soldiers that have spread across Israel and the West Bank in the past week. The violence, including the first apparent revenge attack by an Israeli Friday and increasing protests by Israel's own Arab minority, has raised fears of the unrest spiraling further out of control. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
Israeli troops take aim during clashes with Palestinians, near Ramallah, West Bank, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. Recent days have seen a string of attacks by young Palestinians with no known links to armed groups who have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating Israeli efforts to contain the violence, which has been linked to tensions over a sensitive Jerusalem holy site. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
Palestinians carry a wounded man, who flashes a victory sign, as others run for a cover, during clashes with with Israeli soldiers on the Israeli border, Eastern Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. At least four attacks â three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli â as well as deadly clashes along the Gaza border threatened to escalate tensions throughout the country on Friday as Israel struggled to control spiraling violence. (AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra)
Palestinians carry the body of Mohammed al-Jaabari during his funeral in Hebron Saturday, Oct. 10, 2015. al-Jaabari was killed after he attacked an Israeli policeman outside Kiryat Arba settlement Friday, according to Israeli police. (AP Photo/Nasser Shiyoukhi)
A Palestinian protester films with his mobile phone, during clashes with Israeli soldiers on the Israeli border Eastern Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. At least four attacks â three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli â as well as deadly clashes along the Gaza border threatened to escalate tensions throughout the country on Friday as Israel struggled to control spiraling violence. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)
A masked Palestinian hurls rocks towards Israeli soldiers during clashes following the funeral of Mohammed Fares al-Jaabari on October 10, 2015, in the center of the West Bank town of Hebron. Israeli security forces have arrested approximately 400 Palestinians since the October 1 outbreak of violence in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem, the Palestinian Prisoner Club said. AFP PHOTO / HAZEM BADER (Photo credit should read HAZEM BADER/AFP/Getty Images)
Israeli policemen watch a Palestinian man pray outside Jerusalem's Old City Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. At least four attacks, three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli, as well as deadly clashes along the Gaza border threatened to escalate tensions throughout the country on Friday as Israel struggled to control spiraling violence. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Palestinians carry a wounded youth during clashes with Israeli soldiers on the Israeli border Eastern Gaza City, Friday, Oct. 9, 2015. At least four attacks â three by Palestinians and one by an Israeli â as well as deadly clashes along the Gaza border threatened to escalate tensions throughout the country on Friday as Israel struggled to control spiraling violence. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)
Israeli soldiers detain a wounded Palestinian stone thrower after infiltrated members of the Israeli security forces shot at fellow protesters during clashes in Beit El, on the outskirts of the West Bank city of Ramallah, on October 7, 2015. New violence rocked Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, including a stabbing in annexed east Jerusalem, even as Israel and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas took steps to ease tensions. AFP PHOTO / ABBAS MOMANI (Photo credit should read ABBAS MOMANI/AFP/Getty Images)
A masked Palestinian protester stands amid smoke of burning tires during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank, Thursday, Oct. 8, 2015. (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)
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Israel has struggled to contain near-daily attacks by Palestinian assailants. Authorities have blocked roads and placed checkpoints at the entrances of Palestinian neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. Other security measures include ID checks and requiring some Palestinian residents to lift their shirts and roll up pant legs as they exit their neighborhoods to prove they are not carrying knives. Soldiers have been deployed in Jerusalem and cities across Israel.

On Sunday, Israeli police erected a barrier to separate the Jewish neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv from the adjacent Palestinian neighborhood of Jabal Mukaber as part of the heightened security. A number of attackers have come from Jabal Mukaber.

Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the barrier, a row of six concrete slabs about five meters (16 feet) high, was meant to protect Armon Hanatziv from rocks and firebombs lobbed from Jabal Mukaber.

But erecting a barrier dividing areas of Jerusalem is a sensitive step, testing Israel's repeated statements over the years that the city is its undivided, eternal capital.

Israel captured east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war and later annexed the area in a move that is not recognized internationally. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of their hoped-for state.

"This has no political meaning, said Emmanuel Nahshon, a spokesman for Israel's foreign ministry. "It's one more aspect of our security measures."

Samri, the police spokeswoman, said the barrier would remain "for as long as needed" and that it could be lengthened based on security needs.

On Sunday, the six slabs lined a sidewalk on a road between the Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. Writing in Hebrew on the barrier said it was a "temporary, mobile police barrier." It did not prevent pedestrians from leaving or entering.

Palestinians said the roadblocks are collective punishment and ineffective in deterring attackers.

Israeli leaders say the violence is due to Palestinian incitement. But Palestinians say it is the result of years of Israeli occupation, failed peace efforts and lack of hope among their youth.

Much of that hopelessness is found in Arab areas of east Jerusalem. They complain of discrimination, noting that municipal services from education to garbage pickup in their areas are neglected.

Over the past month, nine Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks, most of them stabbings. In that time, 41 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire, including 20 labeled by Israel as attackers, and the rest in clashes with Israeli troops.

The daily attacks have caused a sense of panic across Israel and raised fears that the region is on the cusp of a new round of heavy violence.

The outbreak was fueled by rumors that Israel was plotting to take over Jerusalem's most sensitive holy site, a hilltop compound revered by Jews as the Temple Mount and home to the Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third-holiest shrine and a key national symbol for the Palestinians.

Israel has adamantly denied the allegations, saying it has no plans to change the status quo at the site, where Jews are allowed to visit but not pray. It accuses the Palestinians of inciting to violence through the false claims.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday that his government would start going after the finances of the Islamic Movement in Israel, a group he accuses of being the chief inciter of the recent violence.

"Israel is not the problem at the Temple Mount, Israel is the solution," he told his Cabinet. "We will protect the status quo, we are the only ones who are doing this and we will continue to do it responsibly and seriously."

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Associated Press photographer Ariel Schalit in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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