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UN Leader Making Snap Visit to Israel as Violence Spirals

In the latest violence, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli officer in the occupied West Bank, and an Israeli man died after being run over by a truck.

by Reuters and VICE News
Oct 20 2015, 12:25pm

Israeli soldiers take up position during clashes with Palestinian protesters in the West Bank. Photo by Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA

The United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon began a snap visit on Tuesday to try to stem Israeli-Palestinian violence as Israel issued fresh assurances addressing Muslim fears of Jewish encroachment at a mosque compound at the centre of the conflict.

In the latest incident in a month of spiralling violence, a Palestinian stabbed and wounded an Israeli officer in the occupied West Bank before other troops shot the assailant, the military said. The Palestinian Health Ministry said he was killed.

Meanwhile an Israeli man died after being run over during a clash with Palestinians in the West Bank, reported the Associated Press. One of the agency's photographers says he saw the man get out of his car after Palestinian protesters threw stones at it, and began hitting passing Palestinian cars with a large stick similar to a baseball bat.

The AP reported that the man hit a passing truck with the stick, and the truck ran him over. A Palestinian security official said the truck driver turned himself in, saying he hit the Israeli by accident while trying to swerve out of the way. 

Related: Israelis Are Buying a Ton of Guns Amid Current Violence

Israeli officials said Ban, whose trip was announced in Israel only hours before his expected arrival, would meet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day in Jerusalem. 

The UN leader will see Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Wednesday, Palestinian officials said.

In a speech on Tuesday, Netanyahu accused Abbas, of "irresponsible behavior" during the past month of violence, saying he should have openly condemned Palestinian attacks. He called on Abbas to "stop lying, stop inciting."

US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is to hold talks with Netanyahu in Germany during the prime minister's visit there on Wednesday and Thursday, has said Israeli and Palestinian leaders need to clarify the status of Jerusalem's al-Aqsa mosque compound to held stem the bloodshed.

Kerry planned to meet Abbas and Jordan's King Abdullah, likely in Amman, later in the week.

The violence has been stoked partly by Palestinians' anger at what they see as increased Jewish visits to the Jerusalem holy site, also revered in Judaism as the location of two destroyed biblical temples.

Watch the VICE News documentary: The Heart of the Conflict: Intifada 3.0 (Dispatch 5)

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"Israel has not and will not change the status quo. That is one huge lie," Netanyahu said in a speech to international Jewish leaders meeting in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

Under long-standing arrangements, Islamic religious authorities administer al-Aqsa. Israel allows Jews to visit but not pray in the compound in Jerusalem's walled Old City that it captured along with other parts of East Jerusalem and the West Bank in a 1967 war.

In the last month eight Israelis have been killed in stabbings and shootings by Palestinian and Arab-Israeli attackers in Israel, Jerusalem and the West Bank. 

Israeli security forces have killed at least 42 Palestinians, including 20 assailants and demonstrators, one of whom, police said, fired a gun at them.

An Eritrean, mistaken as an assailant during an Arab gunman's assault, was also killed after being shot by a security guard and kicked by angry crowd. Israel police have launched an investigation into his death.

Related: In Photos: Riding Along With Medics on the Frontline of Clashes in the West Bank

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israel
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Mahmoud Abbas
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Al Aqsa