Israel says thwarts further knife attacks, three Palestinians dead

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Palestinian Shot Dead by Settler After Allegedly Trying to Stab Him

Three Palestinians were shot dead on Saturday in what Israel said were thwarted knife attacks in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as tensions ran high after more than two weeks of unrest.

At least 40 Palestinians and seven Israelis have died in the street violence, which was in part triggered by Palestinians' anger over what they see as increased Jewish encroachment on Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound.

SEE MORE: Palestinians set fire to Jewish shrine in West Bank

There were contradictory accounts of one of the shootings, near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank city of Hebron. Israel said a Palestinian attempted to stab an Israeli civilian, who was carrying a gun and then shot and killed the attacker.

But a Palestinian man told Reuters that his daughter, a high school student, witnessed the shooting and said it happened when Jewish settlers attacked an unarmed Palestinian.

In a neighborhood around East Jerusalem, Israeli border police had stopped to question a 16-year-old Palestinian walking in "a suspicious manner", a police spokesman said. The teenager drew a knife and tried to stab the officers, who shot him dead, the spokesman said.

Also in Hebron, a Palestinian woman stabbed an Israeli border policewoman, cutting her hand, a police spokesman said. The policewoman shot the attacker, he said.

The Palestinians killed in the last two weeks have included knife-wielding assailants and protesters shot by Israeli forces during rock-throwing confrontations. The seven Israelis have died in random attacks in the street or on buses.

Violence in Israel escalates:

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Violence in Israel and the West Bank escalates
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Israel says thwarts further knife attacks, three Palestinians dead
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 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)
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)
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 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)
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The violence has mostly occurred in Jerusalem and the West Bank but it has also erupted along the Gaza-Israel border. On Saturday Israel's army defused a rocket it said had been fired by Gaza militants overnight, landing in an open area.

The street violence, some of the worst in years, has been intensified by conflicting witness accounts and amateur video that has been interpreted in different ways. In some cases, witnesses gave accounts that were later shown by video footage to be false.

Israel says it is keeping the status quo at the holy compound, which is also revered by Jews as the location of two destroyed biblical Jewish temples.

Peace talks collapsed in 2014 over Israeli settlement-building in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas Palestinians seek for a state, and after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas angered Israel by reaching a unity deal with the Islamist group Hamas in Gaza.

The last major confrontation was the Gaza conflict between Israel and Hamas in 2014, which left large sections of Gaza destroyed. Around 2,100 Palestinians, most of them civilians, and 73 Israelis, most of them soldiers, were killed.

The United States has stepped up efforts to try to restore calm to the region. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke by phone with both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas to discuss ways to end the violence.

Kerry and Netanyahu are due to meet next week in Germany.

(Reporting by Ali Sawafta, Nidal al-Mughrabi, Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Ros Russell)

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