4 Attacks by Palestinians Leave 3 Dead in Israel


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Emergency crew members removed the body of a Palestinian assailant after an attack on a bus in Jerusalem on Tuesday.

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Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press

JERUSALEM — Four attacks by Palestinians in Jerusalem and a city 40 miles away killed three Israeli Jews and wounded at least a dozen others in two hours on Tuesday morning, the police said, the most intense eruption so far in two weeks of escalating violence that has alarmed Israel and flummoxed its security forces.

The Israeli authorities said two assailants boarded a public bus in Jerusalem and shot and stabbed riders, killing two men. The third Israeli fatality occurred in an ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Jerusalem, when a Palestinian worker for the Israeli telephone company rammed the company’s car into pedestrians, then got out and attacked them with a meat cleaver. There were also two stabbings in Ra’anana, a city of 80,000 that is home to many American immigrant families.

Police officers killed one of the bus attackers and wounded the other, while a security guard fatally shot the phone company worker.

“It started with knives, then cars and now guns,” said Aliza Ben Zichri, a retired kindergarten teacher who was one of the many who rushed to the scene of the bus attack after hearing gunfire.

“Why not put them under curfew?” Ms. Ben Zichri, 59, asked of the city’s 300,000 Palestinian residents. “I should be able to walk freely.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel called an emergency meeting of top security officials and ministers for Tuesday afternoon. A police spokeswoman said the steps to be considered included a complete closing of Jerusalem’s Arab neighborhoods, whose residents are generally not citizens of Israel but can freely travel throughout the country and often work in Jewish areas, and an easing of gun-licensing procedures.

Speaking in the Knesset, Israel’s Parliament, during a break in the meeting, Mr. Netanyahu said, “We are focused on our mission of fighting the murderers and inciters, and I am sure that the actions we take will bring the other side to understand that terrorism does not pay.”

At the scene of the bus attack, Mayor Nir Barkat of Jerusalem called for new restrictions on Arab neighborhoods in the city.

“We have to stop and place a curfew,” he said. “We must widen and upgrade the steps taken up until now.”

Mr. Barkat, who last week urged residents with licensed guns to start carrying them in the streets, added: “This has to stop, even if residents pay a price in their quality of life. We need to stop this and take control of the reality we live in.”

The outbreak of violence on Tuesday came after four stabbing attacks on Monday in Jerusalem, including one in which a 13-year-old Jew riding his bicycle was critically wounded by two Palestinian cousins, 13 and 15. The younger assailant was hit by a car and severely hurt as he tried to flee, the police said, while the older one was fatally shot by officers, prompting outrage.

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas of the Palestinian Authority, called the killing of the 15-year-old a “heinous crime” and compared it to an episode widely seen as having helped incite the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising, in 2000.

“If the Israeli government continues with this escalation of this dangerous method of executions, the region will be in a position that cannot be controlled, and everyone will pay a heavy price,” Mr. Rudeineh said in a statement reported by Palestinian news outlets.

Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian ambassador to the United Nations, sent the Security Council an urgent letter on Monday night listing numerous cases in which Israeli forces fatally shot attackers, as well as people protesting against Israel’s occupation in the West Bank and rushing toward the fence that separates Israel from the Gaza Strip.

“Each day that passes, more innocent lives are lost, as is any hope to reach a peaceful two-state solution in the future,” the letter says. “The violations mentioned above should trigger immediate action by the international community, including the Security Council, to finally take measures to provide the Palestinian civilian population with immediate protection.”

In the Knesset, Mr. Netanyahu called on Mr. Abbas to “stop lying, stop inciting.”

He disputed the widespread Palestinian allegations that Israelis have killed suspected assailants in cold blood, and he described the actions of the Israeli security forces and citizens as “legitimate self-defense.”

“An Arab boy critically wounds a Jewish boy, and after the security forces stop him so that he cannot continue with his stabbing spree, he is turned into a martyr who was supposedly executed, having done no wrong,” Mr. Netanyahu said.

There have been more than 20 attacks, mostly stabbings, already this month, killing a total of seven Israeli Jews. At least 11 of those suspected of being assailants have been shot dead by Israeli security forces or, in one case, a victim who pulled out a pistol. Most of the attacks have been in Jerusalem, but violence has also struck in Kiryat Arba, an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank; in the cultural and financial capital, Tel Aviv; and in far-flung, normally peaceful towns.

Adding to the unfolding sense of chaos, the police reported on Tuesday that a Jewish resident of Kiryat Ata in northern Israel stabbed another Jew, apparently mistaking him for an Arab, in what was suspected to be a botched revenge attack.

The violence on Tuesday began in Ra’anana, where the police said a 22-year-old Palestinian from East Jerusalem stabbed an Israeli man near City Hall, wounding him lightly. The mayor helped catch the assailant. Another East Jerusalem resident — who the Israeli news media said worked in a Ra’anana hospital — later stabbed four people, injuring one seriously, according to the police, and was stopped from fleeing by civilians, including one who used his vehicle.

Protests continued in several friction points across the occupied West Bank on Tuesday, and along the border fence separating the Gaza Strip from Israel, as part of a declared “day of rage.” A Palestinian man was fatally shot during clashes with Israeli forces near the wall separating the West Bank city of Bethlehem from Jerusalem. Wafa, the official Palestinian news agency, identified the man as Muataz Zawahareh, 27. Medical officials said a bullet had pierced his lung.

Witnesses to the attack in Ra’anana told Israeli news outlets that two Palestinians tried to take control of a No. 78 bus and prevented people from getting off, using a knife and a gun.

Residents along the bus route rushed with Mr. Barkat to a junction, where the bus was stopped. Ilan Mizrahi, 43, brought his pistol after hearing gunfire, but by the time he arrived, the police had taken control.

“If I had no choice, I’d need to defend the Jewish people,” Mr. Mizrahi said. “No one will break us, and we’ll win this war.”

Shifra Belmas, who is retired and was sitting at the bus stop with her husband, Eli, complained that “there’s no security,” and that East Jerusalem Palestinians “walk freely” but “we have to think twice whether to leave the house or not.”

Not far away, Said Al Diq, a resident of the neighborhood who owns a nearby carwash , sat watching the chaos with some of his workers. He blamed Israel for threatening Muslim control of the Old City compound, home to Al Aqsa Mosque, though Mr. Netanyahu has repeatedly insisted he will not change anything there.

“Muslims, we want to live in peace, but the Netanyahu government doesn’t, they’re extremists,” said Mr. Diq, 48. “We are people of peace, but whoever harms our mosque, that’s a red line.”

One of the carwash employees, Ahmed Rajabi, 30, said the neighborhood used to be a quiet place. “We’ve always lived together; I don’t know how such a thing happened,” he said. “It’s not good. We don’t agree with those things, with all this.”

Correction: October 13, 2015

Because of an editing error, an earlier version of this article misidentified the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood where a Palestinian phone company worker rammed his car into pedestrians, then got out and attacked them, killing one man. It is West Jerusalem, not East Jerusalem.



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