Two Palestinians wanted for killing three on Israel Independence Day apprehended

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Two Palestinians who killed three Israelis in an attack in an ultra-Orthodox Jewish town on Israel’s Independence Day on Thursday have been apprehended, Israeli security forces said in a statement on Sunday.

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The attack was the latest in a recent upsurge of Israeli-Palestinian violence that has raised fears of a slide back to wider conflict.

“The two terrorists who murdered three Israeli civilians in the deadly attack in the city of Elad have been caught,” Israel’s police, Shin Bet security services and military said in a joint statement, which gave no further details.

Israeli forces had mounted an extensive search since the incident, in which two axe-wielding assailants ran through Elad,some 15 km (nine miles) north of Tel Aviv.

The men, identified by Israel as residents of a village near the Palestinian city of Jenin in the occupied West Bank, were captured in a forest near Elad.

Photos of the two, who appeared to be unhurt, and of Israeli security men with guns pointed at their hiding place, were carried by Israeli news websites after they were taken into custody.

Palestinians and members of Israel's Arab minority have killed 18 people, including three police officers and a security guard, in attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have mostly targeted civilians.

Israel has responded with arrest raids in Palestinian towns and villages which have often sparked clashes and brought the number of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces since the beginning of the year to at least 40.

The casualties include armed members of militant groups, lone assailants and bystanders.

Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, praised the Elad assault but did not claim responsibility. It said the attack was a response to Israeli actions at Al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem.

Over the past month, Palestinians and Israeli police have repeatedly clashed at the sensitive complex.

Palestinians and Jordan, the custodian of the site that is the third-holiest in Islam, accuse Israel of not doing enough to enforce a long-standing ban on non-Muslim prayer there, which Israel denies.

The compound is Judaism’s holiest site and the vestige of two ancient Jewish temples.

Israel captured the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem in a 1967 Middle East War. Palestinians seek these territories for a future state.

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