Border Police officers shot and killed two Palestinian men apparently attempting to carry out a stabbing attack near the Tomb of the Patriarchs pilgrimage site in Hebron on Monday, police said.
They approached the officers before taking out knives and attempting to stab a group of them. The Border Police officers opened fire at the assailants, hitting both of them, police said.
One was pronounced dead a short while later, while the other was taken to Jerusalem’s Shaare Zedek Medical Center in critical condition and died of his wounds a few hours later, police said.
The assailants were identified as cousins Muhannad Jamil al-Rajabi, 21, and Amir Jamal al-Rajabi, 17, by the Palestinian health ministry. They were both residents of Hebron.
No Israeli troops were injured.
The attack was the second of the day, after two police were stabbed by a knifeman outside the Old City of Jerusalem Monday morning.
One victim, a 38-year-old female, was in intensive care after suffering stab wounds to her neck. The second, a 45-year-old male, suffered moderate wounds. The attacker was shot and hospitalized in critical condition.
Six attacks over the weekend — four stabbings, a car ramming and a rock throwing — caught many Israelis by surprise, as the violence that marked 2015 and early 2016 appeared to have waned in recent months, and raised fears that regular attacks could return.
Many of the attacks have been centered around the flashpoint city of Hebron, where Palestinians live in close proximity to settlers and Israeli troops.
The Tomb of the Patriarchs, where Muslims and Jews believe the Biblical patriarch Abraham is buried, is heavily guarded and shared by worshipers from both religions, in separate spaces.
Israeli security forces have “boosted their forces” ahead of the upcoming holidays and in light of the uptick in violence against police officers, soldiers and civilians in recent days, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday.
“The security forces are on heightened alert and I will meet with them today in order to ensure that we will be ready to defend our people during this sensitive period,” he stated.
Officials fear the upcoming Jewish holidays and the recently ended Muslim Eid al-Adha holiday could be behind the raised tensions.
“[The Eid al-Adha holiday] and September are always more susceptible to spikes in violent Palestinian activities,” a military official, speaking anonymously, said Saturday.
“The motivation and inspiration to carry out attacks against Israelis remains strong,” the official said.
In the past year, Israel saw a wave of so-called “lone-wolf” Palestinian terror attacks, which has claimed the lives of 35 Israelis and four foreign nationals since October 2015. Over 200 Palestinians have also been killed in the past year, with the Israeli army and police saying that most of those killed were attackers or involved in clashes with security forces.
Dov Lieber contributed to this report.