JERUSALEM: Three Israelis were killed and dozens injured in a series of Palestinian attacks Tuesday, sparking calls by Israeli officials to cordon off Arab neighborhoods and bring more troops into the city amid rising bloodshed and unease.Almost two weeks of daily violence, including a spate of attacks by knife-wielding Palestinian teenagers, has left Israelis deeply shaken and fearful of another sustained Palestinian Intefida.The current escalation was sparked, in part, by Palestinian resentment over access restrictions at the al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem’s Old City, at a site revered by Muslims and Jews. Palestinians are also frustrated by their own weak leaders and almost 50 years of military occupation. The latest round of U.S.-brokered peace talks collapsed last year in failure.
Both Israeli and Palestinian leaders accuse the other of incitement, but Palestinian leaders appear to have little control over the actions of the mostly young attackers.In the most serious attack Tuesday, two Palestinian assailants boarded a bus in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Armon Hanatziv and began shooting and stabbing passengers, Israeli police said. Medics and police reported two Israelis were killed and 16 wounded, several seriously.The attack harkened back to early last decade — during the second Palestinian uprising, or Intifada — when buses were among the main targets.
During the bus attack the Palestinians managed to lock the doors of the vehicle, Israeli media reported. One of the Palestinians was shot dead at the scene, and the other was wounded, said police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld. The assailant later died of his wounds.Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called for police to restrict movement in Palestinian neighborhoods in mostly Palestinian East Jerusalem, Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan said he was considering such a move.
In addition to the bus attack, a Palestinian rammed his car into a crowded bus stop in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Geula. The attacker was an employee of Israel’s national phone company Bezeq, police said, and was driving one of the company’s cars.
Eyewitnesses said he jumped from the vehicle swinging an ax. He killed an Israeli rabbi and injured several others. The assailant was shot and wounded by a security guard, and gassed with pepper spray by the crowd.There were two more knife attacks in the central Israel city of Raanana. In the first, a Palestinian from East Jerusalem used a knife to slash at a group of Israelis, seriously injuring three. The attacker ran away, pursued by crowd.
A civilian used his car to run over the assailant, who was arrested.A second knife attack in Raanana took place outside the hospital; one Israeli suffered serious injuries; the attacker was overpowered by civilians.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of his security cabinet to consider new measures to stem the violence.Across the West Bank, meanwhile, Palestinian activists called for a “day of rage” to protest the Israeli occupation and tough, often lethal measures employed by Israeli forces against demonstrators.
According to the Maan news agency, the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health reports that Israeli forces have shot more than 1,300 Palestinians with rubber-coated bullets and live rounds since unrest began almost two weeks ago.At least 30 Palestinians, including both rock throwers and knife attackers, have been killed by Israeli forces and civilians. Palestinians say that several of their dead were shot and killed without cause.