JERUSALEM (Oct. 8)
Ashkelon held its second funeral in less than two weeks Wednesday for a local resident stabbed to death in Gaza and the town seethed with fury. Strong police re-enforcements prevented anti-Arab violence. Police warned Arab workers from the nearby Gaza Strip to stay away from Ashkelon for the time being, for their own safety.
On Tuesday, Yisrael Kitaro, a 43-year-old taxi driver from Ashkelon, was fatally stabbed in a garage near Gaza’s Medina Square while waiting for repairs on his vehicle. His assailant escaped. The garage is not far from the Gaza fruit market where, on September 27, Haim Azran, 35, of Ashkelon, also met death at the hands of a knife-wielding attacker.
Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin who visited Gaza shortly after the latest slaying, labeled the attack on Kitaro terrorism. He said new measures would be taken to fight it but acknowledged that it is difficult to prevent surprise knife attacks. He suggested that Israelis refrain from visiting Gaza.
Kitaro was apparently taken by surprise in the garage. The owner told police he heard the victim scream but did not see the attack. Kitaro was taken to local military headquarters where he died from loss of blood. His body was transferred to a hospital in Ashkelon. Enraged crowds gathered outside. Ashkelon taxi drivers used their vehicles to block roads from the Gaza Strip. Reenforced police restored order but tension remained high Tuesday and Wednesday.
Several thousand local residents gathered at the burial site Wednesday, shouting “Death to terrorists,” “Revenge,” and “We won’t let Arabs into Ashkelon.”
Deputy Premier David Levy, who, like many Ashkelon residents is of Moroccan origin, visited the town Wednesday and appealed for calm. He urged the residents not to vent their anger on innocent Arabs “who come to us to work or trade.” He said the army and the security services can be relied on to apprehend the killers and prevent further attacks. Military authorities said Wednesday they were keeping a high profile in town to discourage violence from any quarter. They said there would be frequent random searches of people and vehicles, at least in the next few days.