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American Among 5 People Killed In 2 Attacks In Israel And West Bank

Israeli officials say Palestinians carrying out two separate attacks in Israel and the West Bank killed five people, including one American, on Thursday. The American was an 18-year-old student attending a yeshiva, or religious school, and was with a group of other students when he was killed.

A Palestinian and three Israelis were also killed, according to Israeli police. Both Palestinian assailants were taken into custody.

The first attack happened midafternoon in a commercial area of Tel Aviv. Israeli security officials say a Palestinian man with a permit to enter Israel from the West Bank stabbed three Israelis, killing two of them.

The second attack took place about two hours later, in the West Bank settlement area between Jerusalem and Hebron known as the Gush Etzion bloc. Israeli police say a Palestinian man used a machine gun to fire on other vehicles from his car, then collided with a vehicle before being captured.

The State Department confirmed a U.S. citizen was among those who died. He has been identified as Ezra Schwarz of Sharon, Mass. Naty Katz, head of school at the Maimonides School in Brookline, Mass., issued this statement:

"The entire Maimonides School community is profoundly saddened as we mourn the tragic loss of our recent graduate Ezra Schwartz, Class of 2015, who was murdered in a terrorist attack today in Israel. Ezra was spending his gap year studying in Israel. Our thoughts and prayers are with Ezra's family, classmates and friends."

The Jewish Agency for Israel, which runs a program called Masa Israel Journey, says Schwarz was a participant in the program.

Palestinian media, citing Israeli officials, said the Palestinian pedestrian killed by the gunman was from a village near Hebron.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with security advisers Thursday to discuss the government's next steps.

The two attacks, and the high number of fatalities, left Israelis on heightened alert. The most recent Israeli fatality happened last week in the West Bank, when a father and son were shot. In the Tel Aviv area, there hadn't been any attacks for the past two weeks.

More than 80 Palestinians have died since the recent wave of violence began. Israel says more than half of them were killed as they were carrying out attacks. Others were killed in clashes with Israeli troops, including a Palestinian who Palestinian officials say died Thursday from wounds sustained in a confrontation with soldiers last week.

Thursday's deaths bring the number of Israelis killed by Palestinian attackers recently to 17.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin compared the violence to acts of terrorism in other countries, saying in a statement that the pain and mourning are the same "in Tel Aviv, in Paris, in the Etzion Bloc and in the Sinai. The pornography of death is striking across the world."

Since the fatal attacks in Paris last week, both Israeli and Palestinian leaders have sought to compare their communities as victims of terrorism and the other group as perpetrators.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

International Correspondent Emily Harris is based in Jerusalem as part of NPR's Mideast team. Her post covers news related to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. She began this role in March of 2013.