(CNN)Israeli forces shut down access to some Palestinian neighborhoods in East Jerusalem on Wednesday by setting up checkpoints and putting more police on the streets, a reaction to a spike in violence across Israel and the Palestinian territories in recent days.
"These police actions and operations are intended to fairly respond to the wave of terror and knifing, within the framework of trying to return law and order to all citizens of the state," said Luba Samri, an Israeli police spokeswoman.
The moves came a day after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said he would soon travel to the Middle East to help calm the situation. It wasn't immediately clear when he planned to go.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to make his nation more secure.
"Today we ... decide on a series of vigorous steps in our fight against the sources of terrorism and incitement," Netanyahu said. "They will be implemented as quickly as possible."
In addition to cordoning off some Palestinian neighborhoods, Israeli authorities can demolish the homes of attackers, according to a statement from the Israeli government. There is a legal process that comes first, however, allowing homeowners to go before the Supreme Court of Israel. Forces cannot simply tear down homes without formal permission.
In addition, the Israeli police force will be expanded and backed up by the military. An additional 300 more security guards will be recruited for duty on public transportation. Several recent attacks have taken place on buses or at bus stops.
The Prime Minister's office announced last weekend that about 1,600 reserve border police officers have been mobilized in Jerusalem, where many recent attacks have occurred, and throughout Israel as "a primary preventive and deterrent measure."
Human Rights Watch condemned the new security measures.
"Locking down East Jerusalem neighborhoods will infringe upon the freedom of movement of all Palestinian residents rather than being a narrowly tailored response to a specific concern," said Sari Bashi of Human Rights Watch.
"The recent spate of attacks on Israeli civilians would present a challenge for any police force. But exacerbating the punitive policy of home demolitions is an unlawful and ill-considered response."
Israel's response followed a bloody day of attacks carried out by men that Israeli authorities say have ties to Palestinian terrorist groups.
At least three Israelis were killed, and many others wounded.
Two deaths came in an attack on a bus in Jerusalem's Armon Hanatziv, eliciting praise from Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza.
"The Hamas movement blesses the heroic operations in Jerusalem," the group tweeted, "and hails the heroes who (carried them out)."
The bodies of Palestinians killed in attacks on Israelis won't be returned to the families, the Israeli government said Wednesday.
"The families of the terrorists have turned their funerals into demonstrations of support for terror and incitement to kill and we should prevent this," said Gilad Erdan, Israel's public security minister. "We should do everything that terrorists will not get the honor and ceremony after the operations they carried out."
There was additional bloodshed in Haifa, where an Israeli Jew stabbed a man he mistakenly thought was Arab outside an IKEA. In another incident, an Israeli Arab was hit on the head with a stick on a beach in Netanya, according to Samri, the police spokeswoman.
There was also violence in Palestinian areas.
Clashes broke out Wednesday between the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinians in Bethlehem in the West Bank after a Palestinian's funeral. The slain Palestinian was identified as Muataz Ibrahim Zawahra, 27. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said he was shot in the back Tuesday. The Palestinian Red Crescent and witnesses also reported heavy fighting in the West Bank city of
The official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, reported at least five Palestinians were wounded Tuesday by "live ammunition" in northern Gaza at the Beit Hanoun crossing point. Eighteen were reportedly shot and injured the previous night at the Huwwara military checkpoint.
The Palestinian Red Crescent reported that 37 people were injured in Gaza. An additional 155 people received medical treatment in the West Bank and Jerusalem. Most had inhaled tear gas, but some were shot and beaten, the agency said.
The third intifada?
Some have suggested the widespread violence represents the start of the third intifada, or uprising, by Palestinians. But others have dismissed that assertion, saying the unrest is simply the consequence of the absence of any progress toward peace.
Whatever the label, some Palestinians insist they are fed up with the status quo.
"We've tried negotiations and it didn't work," a Palestinian youth in Hebron told CNN. "So now we will fight."
And the Israeli government appears ready to fight back.
"Israel will settle accounts with the murderers, those who attempt murder and all those who assist them," Netanyahu said. "Not only will they not enjoy their privileges, but we will exact from them the full cost.
"Anyone who raises his hand to harm us -- will pay dearly. And we will not hesitate to use all means at our disposal to restore peace to the cities of Israel."