Orthodox Jew Stabbed in the Old City Despite a Heavy Police Presence

The stabbing attack on 66-year-old David Lipschitz in Jerusalem’s Old City Friday night was carried out despite a heavy police presence and other civilians nearby, Police Minister Haim Barlev disclosed in an Israel Radio interview Monday.

He insisted, however, that Jerusalem “is the safest city in the world–far safer than New York, Paris, London and many other big cities–despite the problems we have.”

Lipschitz, an Orthodox Jew, was assaulted near the Damascus Gate on his way from prayers at the Western Wall to his home in the Mea Shearim quarter outside the Old City walls. He was treated at Hadassah Hospital and is reported to be recovering.

More than a dozen prominent Palestinians, including Palestine Liberation Organization sympathizers, issued a statement Sunday deploring the attack. They rejected “attempts by the Israeli media to link (it) to the Palestinian nationalist struggle.” The signatories included faculty members of Bir Zeit University in the West Bank and Hanna Seniora, editor of the pro-PLO East Jerusalem daily Al Fajr.

“This act directly contravenes the civilized context of our legitimate Palestinian struggle” and is “in complete contradiction to humanist principles and religious laws in which we believe,” the statement said.

Barlev said he hoped “the police presence will act as a deterrent, that the criminals will be caught and that no extremists — neither theirs nor ours–will disturb the peace.”

He said that Lipschitz’s attackers may have been hiding behind a parked truck, stabbed him and fled, all in a matter of seconds. “Two other Jews were following him (Lipschitz) about 10 meters behind, and another Jew was walking ahead of him,” Barlev said. “None of them noticed anything. Not far away there was a police vehicle with the ‘Kojaks’ on duty.” He was apparently referring, not without sarcasm, to the popular American television detective.

Barlev said the police are investigating the incident and security patrols have been beefed up.

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