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Four people killed in Southern Israel in latest attack

JERUSALEM – Four Israelis were killed in a knife and car crash in Beersheba, southern Israel, on Tuesday afternoon, in the third attack on Israeli Jews in less than a week.

According to a police commander, Peretz Amar, a police commander, Peretz Amar, said the attacker stabbed and killed a cyclist outside the gas station before entering the gas station and stabbing a woman. .

The attacker then returned to his vehicle, drove to a nearby shopping mall and stabbed three women, one of whom died, the commander said. The attacker then drove to a nearby roundabout, crashed into a second vehicle, exited, and fatally stabbed a fourth person, the commander said.

Two armed passersby tried to calm the attacker before shooting him as he tried to stab one of them, according to video uploaded to social media on Tuesday night. The attacker later died from his injuries, a police spokesman said.

The attack is the latest example of an increase in stabbing attacks by Palestinians across the country in recent weeks. A Jewish jogger was stabbed and injured Saturday while running through a residential area in West Jerusalem. A day later, two Israeli policemen were stabbed and wounded in East Jerusalem.

The attack was the first of its kind to occur in Beersheba since 2015. A peaceful city at the northern end of the Negev Desert, Beersheba is not usually at the center of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but it did has become more prominent in recent months because of tensions over ownership of nearby land claimed by Bedouin Arabs.

The recent spate of attacks has raised fears of violence in April – when the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, the Jewish holiday of Passover and the Christian holiday of Easter all fall. in the same time. The month of Ramadan is often a time of high tension in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza; Tensions related to the month of Ramadan sparked war in Gaza last May, and officials and analysts fear the convergence of the three religious festivals could further deepen ties.

Israel’s Prime Minister, Naftali Bennett, met the leaders of Egypt and the United Arab Emirates in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on Tuesday. The three did not elaborate on the content of their discussions, but analysts said at least part of the focus was on the potential for violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank in the coming weeks.

Palestinian officials said this week that Jordan’s king, Abdullah II, is also expected to visit the West Bank later this month to ease tensions.

The Beersheba attack followed nearby protests and clashes between Israeli Arab citizens and Israeli police. Bedouin residents in the area are resisting Israeli efforts to plant a forest on what some Bedouin families say is their ancestral land – a disagreement that for many Palestinians is a symbol of the conflict. Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Israel says the families have never had legal title to the plots.

Tuesday’s attack was hailed by two Islamist militant groups, Hamas and Islamic Jihad, although neither of them claimed responsibility. Israeli media reported that the attacker was a teacher in the nearby town of Bedouin who was serving a prison sentence after admitting to supporting Islamic State, the terrorist group that once controlled swaths of Iraq and Syria. .

Leading Arab politicians in Israel condemned the attack, including Mansour Abbas, an Islamist leader who made history last year by becoming the first Arab Israeli to lead a party Independent Arab into a governing coalition.

Mr Abbas wrote on social media that his party, Raam, “condemns the terrorist attack by criminals” and “sends condolences to the families of those killed and wishes the injured a speedy recovery.” completely.”

He added: “The Arab citizens of the state obey the law and denounce anyone who uses violence against other citizens. Raam urges all citizens to protect the fragile fabric of common life, show responsibility and offer words of tolerance at this difficult time.”

Jonathan Rosen contributed reporting.

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