At least three people were killed and more than a dozen injured in a series of stabbing and shooting attacks in Israel on Tuesday, officials said, as the wave of recent violence showed no signs of abating.
Hamas praised the attacks and called their perpetrators "heroes" as Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on the Israeli government to "immediately implement drastic measures" to ensure the safety of the city's residents as the death toll from near-daily violence climbed.
Police closed major highways leading in and out of Jerusalem, according to The Associated Press, while Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of his Security Cabinet.
Police spokeswoman Luba Samri said the government was considering steps such as sealing off neighborhoods in east Jerusalem — home to several of the attackers — to halt the violence, the AP reported.
On Tuesday morning, two people were killed when two men opened fired and stabbed passengers on a bus in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv, according to police. Medical units said more than 15 people were injured in the attack. One of the alleged bus attackers was shot and killed while the second was captured, Israeli Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.
Meanwhile, police said a driver rammed his car into a bus station before getting out and stabbing people on Jerusalem's Machei Israel street.
One Israeli died in the attack, according to the United Hatzalah medical response unit. The Magen David Odom ambulance service said it was treating five Israelis with severe to moderate injuries. The attacker was shot and captured at the scene, according to police. His condition was not immediately clear.
In the central town of Raanana, a suspect stabbed an Israeli at a bus station before being wrestled to the ground by bystanders. Police said both the alleged attacker and victim were wounded.
In total on Tuesday, five Arabs carried out four attacks targeting Israelis — with two of the suspects killed and three captured, Israeli police said.
The recent uptick in tensions appears to stem largely from growing Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to limit access to, or even destroy, one of Islam's holiest sites — the al-Aqsa mosque complex.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri on Tuesday referenced that dispute in praising the "heroic operations in Jerusalem" and the heroes who carried them out.
"These continuing operations in Jerusalem and the West Bank are a message to all those who presume to offend al-Aqsa mosque," he told NBC News. "The Palestinian people will not remain silent against oppression and is ready to make a sacrifice in order to defend Jerusalem and al-Aqsa."
Less than two hours later, six Israelis were injured in a separate stabbing attack in the town, according to Magen David Odom. All the victims were moderately or lightly injured and taken to hospital. It said the alleged attacker was hospitalized in serious condition; police told NBC News he had been struck by a car after attempting to flee the scene.
Both Raanana attackers were Palestinians from East Jerusalem, according to police.
Meanwhile, the AP reported that the Israeli army was using "riot dispersal means" against hundreds of Palestinian protesters in Gaza near the border. Five people were wounded by Israeli gunfire, according to the AP.