Israeli air strike, bomb attack as Palestinian unrest widens

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories - An Israeli air strike in Gaza killed a pregnant woman and her toddler, as a Palestinian woman set off a bomb in the West Bank Sunday in the first such attack in over a week of violence.

The sharp escalation led to mounting fears that Palestinian unrest was tumbling toward a wider uprising, or third intifada.

After days of unrest elsewhere, Gaza has been drawn into the violence since Friday, with clashes along the border leaving nine Palestinians dead, including teenagers, from Israeli fire.

Overnight, Israel said it targeted "two Hamas weapon manufacturing facilities" after Gaza militants fired two rockets and following attempts by Palestinians to violently cross the border.

One of the rockets had hit an open field in southern Israel and the other was intercepted.

Israel's retaliatory air strikes demolished a house in the northern area of Zeitun, killing Nur Hassan, 30, and her two-year-old daughter Rahaf, Gaza medics said, and trapping three others under the ruins.

Border clashes that broke out Friday came as Hamas's chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniya, called the overall violence an intifada and urged further unrest.

Hamas, which rules Gaza, remains deeply divided from president Mahmud Abbas's West Bank-based Fatah.

In Sunday morning's bomb blast near Jerusalem, a policeman spotted a "suspicious" vehicle close to the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim and ordered the 31-year-old woman to stop, police said.

She exited the car and the explosives inside it detonated, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said, wounding her seriously and the officer lightly.

The woman, from Jericho in the West Bank, shouted "God is great" in Arabic before the bomb went off. It was not clear whether she intended to carry out an attack at that location or elsewhere.

It was also unclear if she intended it be a suicide attack. According to photos distributed by police, the bomb did not appear especially powerful, with the car still intact after the blast.

Explosives had not been used in the week of violence that has led to an Israeli security crackdown, with a wave of stabbings sparking fear among Israelis.

A settler couple was also shot dead in the West Bank on October 1 in front of their children and rioting has shaken annexed east Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abbas have sought to avoid an escalation, frustrated Palestinian youths have defied efforts to restore calm.

Talks with Kerry

The violence has drawn deep international concern, and Abbas as well as Netanyahu have spoken with US Secretary of State John Kerry, each putting the blame for the situation on the other.

Netanyahu said he told Kerry he expected the Palestinian Authority to stop its "wild and mendacious incitement, which is causing the current wave of terrorism".

Abbas said he reiterated the need for Israeli authorities to stop giving cover to "settler provocations, carried out under the army's protection".

Rioting has seen Palestinians throwing stones and firebombs at Israeli security forces, who have responded with live fire, rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades.

Clashes rocked West Bank cities Ramallah and Bethlehem on Saturday and there were also more stabbing attacks.

On Saturday morning, a Palestinian teenager stabbed and wounded two ultra-Orthodox Jews, aged 62 and 65, outside the Old City's Damascus Gate in east Jerusalem, police and medics said.

Police said they shot and killed 16-year-old Ishak Badran, of Kafr Aqeb in east Jerusalem.

Hours later in the same area, a 19-year-old also from Kafr Aqeb stabbed two police officers before himself being shot dead.

The stabbing victims in the second attack were in a "moderate" condition, medics said, with a third seriously wounded after being shot by another officer targeting the assailant.

Fourteen stabbing attacks have targeted Jews since October 3, when a Palestinian murdered two Israelis in the Old City.

One revenge stabbing has occurred, with a 17-year-old Jew in the southern Israeli city of Dimona wounding two Palestinians and two Arab Israelis on Friday.

Netanyahu quickly condemned that attack, a sign of concerns that it could trigger further violence.

Abbas has spoken out against violence and in favour of "peaceful, popular resistance", but many Palestinian youths are frustrated with his leadership.