In Zeita, near the border with Israel, commandos found "weapons and arrested wanted persons suspected of aiding terrorist activities," the army said.

The latest violence to rock Israel came in the Mediterranean port city of Ashkelon, where police said an officer was checking a Palestinian man in his 40s who then "pulled out a knife and attacked the officer".

The policeman "fired and neutralised the suspect, whose death was declared on site," police said, adding that the officer was hospitalised with light wounds from the attack using a kitchen knife.

Police said the man hailed from Hebron -- a powder keg where around 1,000 Jewish settlers live under heavy military protection among 200,000 Palestinians.

Ashkelon said it deployed extra police on motorcycles to patrol schools and commercial areas.

'Escalating violence'

Palestinian youth have also clashed elsewhere with Israeli security forces, including Ramallah where they threw rocks and were targeted with tear gas on Monday.

The rise in violence comes during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan and days before the Jewish festival of Passover and Christian Easter.

Last year during Ramadan, tensions in Jerusalem flared into 11 days of war between Israel and the Hamas militant group ruling the Gaza Strip.

Israeli troops and police have stepped up operations over the past three weeks in which four shooting, stabbing and car-ramming attacks have left 14 people dead.

Over the same period, Israeli forces have killed 15 Palestinians, including assailants, according to an AFP tally.

The Palestinian prime minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, charged that Israeli actions were fuelling the escalation and accused Israel of a "shoot-to-kill policy", speaking at a government meeting on Monday.

He argued that the lack of a political horizon and double standards from the international community were "a serious warning that the situation is getting worse," according to Wafa.

Militant group Islamic Jihad hailed the response to Israel's military incursions in Jenin and other cities.

"We salute our people who stand like an unyielding barricade in the face of the Zionist enemy's terrorism, and who frustrate its plans to carry out the assault on the camp and city of Jenin and all the cities of the West Bank."

UN secretary general Antonio Guterres followed "with deep concern the escalating violence in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Israel", said his spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

"He is appalled by the increasingly high number of casualties, including women and children," Dujarric added.

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