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Israel tensions rise after soldier shot at bus station

Police said a man, thought to be Palestinian, entered the bus station armed with a pistol and knife, killing the soldier and wounding 10 other people.

Israeli border policemen walk by the wall being built between Palestinian and Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem.
Israeli border policemen walk by the wall being built between Palestinian and Jewish neighbourhoods in Jerusalem.
Image: AP/Press Association Images

ISRAEL WILL VOICE its opposition to French proposals to send international observers to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the latest in a diplomatic push to quell fears over a full-blown Palestinian uprising.

The international efforts follow more than two weeks of near-relentless violence that has seen 41 Palestinians killed, including alleged assailants, while eight Israelis have died. Most of the attackers have been young Palestinians wielding knives and believed to be acting on their own.

In the latest unrest, an Israeli soldier was killed on Sunday in a shooting at a bus station in the southern city of Beersheba, the first such attack after a day in which violence seemed to somewhat ebb.

Police said a man, thought to be Palestinian, entered the bus station armed with a pistol and knife, killing the soldier and wounding 10 other people, including four officers.

The gunman himself was then killed and an African bystander was shot by security forces who mistook him for a second gunman.

The identity of the assailant was not immediately known, and there was no claim of responsibility for the attack.

Mideast Israel Palestinians A Palestinian demonstrator has a knife in his belt and rocks in his hand during clashes with Israeli troops, near Ramallah. Source: AP/Press Association Images

But it was praised by militant groups in Gaza, with Hamas calling it a “natural response” and Islamic Jihad saying it was a “normal answer to Israeli crimes”.

Diplomatic moves to halt the more than two weeks of unrelenting violence gained steam, meanwhile, with US Secretary of State John Kerry saying he planned to meet both the Israeli and Palestinian leaders in the coming days.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, meanwhile, rejected an idea from France that would see international observers sent to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound.

Mideast Israel Palestinians Israeli border police check Palestinian's IDs at a checkpoint as they exit the Arab neighbourhood of Issawiyeh. Source: AP/Press Association Images

Clashes at the compound between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters in September preceded the current wave of violence.

Muslims fear Israel will seek to change rules governing the site, located in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem.

The site is sacred to Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Temple Mount. Jews are allowed to visit but not pray there to avoid provoking tensions, and Netanyahu has said repeatedly he has no intention of changing the rules.

 © AFP 2015

Read: Joseph’s Tomb torched as Palestinians call for ‘a Friday of revolution’

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