JERUSALEM (May. 3)
Terror raged once again in the heart of Jerusalem on Wednesday, as two Jews were stabbed to death by an Arab who ran amok on Jaffa Road.
About seven hours later, a Jewish settler in the West Bank was stabbed by a young Arab. He was rushed to a hospital in Petach Tikva, where his wounds were described as “light to moderate.”
The dead were identified as Nissim Levy, 90, and Vardi Kalman, a 60-year-old attorney.
Three Israelis were also injured in the attack. One of them, Levy’s wife, was reported to be in critical condition; the other two, both men, suffered chest wounds and were said to be in serious condition.
The assailant, who was caught shortly after the attack, was saved by police officers from being lynched by an angry crowd that witnessed the incident. According to some witnesses, a second attacker fled from the scene, but this report was not confirmed.
Police Minister Haim Bar-Lev, who arrived on the scene shortly after the incident, described the assailant as a “deranged Moslem extremist” and said it was impossible to prevent such attacks. Bystanders shouted at him to resign.
According to eyewitnesses, the attack took place around 11 a.m., when a young Arab man indiscriminately attacked a number of people who were sitting on a bench at a bus stop opposite Jerusalem’s main post office on Jaffa Road.
CRIES OF ‘DEATH TO THE ARABS;’
The assailant, approximately 25 years old, reportedly shouted “Allah akhbar” (God is great) as he was carrying out the attack.
Eyewitnesses began chasing the assailant, catching him a few yards down the road. Just as they began wrestling with him, police who rushed to the scene pushed the attacker inside a nearby florist shop and protected him from the crowd.
“We ran after him all the way to the florist shop,” recounted eyewitness Ronni Shimon. “We grabbed hold of him, but the policemen caught him and pushed him inside the store. We tried to settle accounts with him, but the police wouldn’t let us.”
The angry crowd cried for vengeance, trying to storm into the shop, but was pushed away by the police. The crowd then gathered at the scene of the attack looking for Arabs to beat up, shouting, “Death to the Arabs;”
At some stage of the incident, shots were fired, apparently by a civilian, since police said none of their men used firearms. It was not clear whether anyone was hurt by the shots.
Police commanders said the Jewish crowd was on the verge of lynching the attacker, which they said was “unacceptable.”
Police Commander David Kraus said Wednesday afternoon that the attacker “appears to have worked alone.”
Kraus said that from the ongoing interrogation, it appeared that the man had attended prayers at the Dome of the Rock on Tuesday night, the 27th day of Ramadan, which is a day of special prayers, and then slept over on the Temple Mount.
Other police sources disclosed that the man had been arrested before on suspicion of hostile activities. There was no word about the second assailant or accomplice, whom some eyewitnesses claimed they saw fleeing the site of the attack.
TENSIONS IN JERUSALEM
For hours after the episode, the city center seethed with interracial hatred, fanned by Meir Kahane, Knesset member Rehavam Ze’evi, and other, lesser known, right-wing activists, who led mobs screaming for vengeance and “death to the Arabs.”
Police arrested Kahane and six followers near Jaffa Road. and another Kach activist near Mea Shearim, where one Arab passerby was beaten up.
Kraus said he had ordered in more reinforcements — there are already 3,000 police officers deployed in the capital in connection with the close of Ramadan — in order to beef up patrols “along the seam,” as Kraus put it, between the western and eastern parts of the city.
The Jewish settler attacked later Wednesday was a resident of Etz Efraim in Samaria. He was stabbed five times.
Initial reports on the incident, which took place at 6 p.m., said the assailant was a boy of 16 or 17 who attacked the settler as he worked on building his home inside the settlement. The youth fled after the attack into the wadis nearby.
Police said the Jerusalem attacker was acting alone and that there was no immediate link between the two incidents.