US calls for ‘both sides’ to stand down amid rising Israel violence

US calls for ‘both sides’ to stand down amid rising Israel violence
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The Obama administration is calling for both Israeli and Palestinian leaders to take actions to reduce violence in Israel, after more than 20 Israeli Jews were injured and three were killed in fresh attacks on Tuesday.

“Overall we need to lower the temperature,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said.

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We’re trying to be consistent but also drive home the point that both sides need to take affirmative actions that reduce tensions,” Toner added. “I don’t think it’s necessarily saying that we’re blaming one side or another.”

Earlier in the day, Palestinians killed three Israeli Jews and injured at least 12 more in four separate attacks in Jerusalem and the city of Ra’anana.

In one incident, two Palestinian men shot and stabbed riders on a public bus in Jerusalem, killing two men. Police attacked the assailants, killing one and injuring the other.

Separately, a Palestinian working for an Israeli telephone company drove his car into a crowd of pedestrians and then exited and attacked them with a meat cleaver. At least one person was killed in that confrontation.

The telephone company worker was killed by police.

In the central Israeli city of Ra’anana, four people were stabbed in two separate attacks, though the suspects were ultimately caught.

In a fifth incident on Tuesday, an Israeli Jewish man stabbed another Jew at an Ikea store in northern Israel believing he was an Arab, in what appears to be a failed revenge attack. 

All together, the attacks made Tuesday the bloodiest day in an escalating wave of violence that has shocked the country and created fresh tensions between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs.

Including Tuesday’s deaths, seven Israeli Jewish people have been killed in more than 20 attacks during the two-week uptick in violence.

At least 11 suspected Palestinian attackers have been shot dead in the attacks, and at least another 16 have been killed in other clashes with Israeli forces.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of his security cabinet on Tuesday. Netanyahu said that his government is planning to take “aggressive steps” to respond to the violence and pledged to “use all means at our disposal to restore calm.”

Palestinian leaders had called Tuesday a “Day of Rage” following a crackdown from Israeli security forces.

At the White House, press secretary Josh Earnest said that the U.S. condemns “in the strongest possible terms” the “terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians.”

Earnest reiterated Toner’s appeal for “both sides to take affirmative steps to restore calm and prevent actions that would further escalate tensions.”   

Jordan Fabian contributed