Last updated: 15 October, 2015

Kerry peace mission to Middle East ‘in coming days’

US Secretary of State John Kerry denounced the recent spate of "terrorist attacks" against Israeli civilians Thursday and said he would head to the region to try to calm tempers.

No timetable or itinerary has been released for the trip, but Kerry said: “I expect to be travelling to the region in the coming days and we will remain very closely engaged in order to support efforts to stabilize the situation.”

Kerry is due to fly to Milan on Friday to visit EXPO 2015, before flying on to Paris for a UNESCO board meeting then to Madrid for talks with the Spanish government, and so will not be free to head to the Middle East before Monday at the earliest.

Israeli security forces were deployed in force around Jerusalem on Thursday, with soldiers joining police after a spate of knife and gun attacks killed seven Israelis and wounded dozens.

At least 30 Palestinians have also died, including alleged attackers, and hundreds more have been wounded in clashes with Israeli forces.

“In recent days we have seen an eruption of tragic, outrageous and unjustified attacks on innocent civilians who were simply trying to go about their daily business in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem,” Kerry said.

“We strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against innocent civilians and there is absolutely no justification for these reprehensible attacks and we will continue to support Israel’s right to defend its existence,” he said in an address at Indiana University.

“It is critically important that calm be restored as soon as possible and we the administration will continue to stress the importance politically and privately of preventing inflammatory rhetoric, accusations or actions that could lead to violence.”

The recent eruption of unrest has raised fears of a third major Palestinian uprising or “intifada” against Israeli occupation.

In the first two intifadas, between 1987 and 1993 and 2000 to 2005, hundreds of people were killed and many more hurt in near daily violence.