JERUSALEM (Oct. 21)
A Palestinian youth screaming “Slaughter the Jews!” fatally stabbed three Israelis and wounded a fourth in a quiet Jerusalem neighborhood Sunday morning.
The assailant, identified as Ammer Sa’id Salah Abu-Sirhan, 19, from the West Bank village of Ubeidiya, east of Bethlehem, said after his capture that he acted to avenge the deaths of 21 Arabs fatally shot by Israeli border police during the Oct. 8 riots on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem.
The victims were identified as Iris Azoulai, an 18-year-old soldier; Eli Altaratz, 43; and Shalom Charlie Shloush, 26, a police cadet who wounded the attacker before he died.
Funerals for Azoulai and Altaratz were held Sunday. Shloush, a trainee in a police anti-terrorist squad, will be buried Monday.
The knife-wielder also attacked 13-year-old Amikam Kobner, wounding him only slightly. The boy was hospitalized and later sent home.
The latest bloodshed in Jerusalem brought some 2,000 police into the streets to prevent violent confrontations between Jews and Arabs.
Large concentrations of police were visible at almost every road junction, especially in the Baka neighborhood, in the southern part of the city, where the assaults occurred.
Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir urged the police and other security forces to make a special effort to maintain the safety of Jerusalem.
There was an immediate outcry from the public and politicians alike, urging that draconian measures, including capital punishment, be taken against Palestinians from the West Bank and the Arab population in general.
ACCESS TO JERUSALEM DENIED
Police Minister Ronni Milo responded with a promise that this time, “very tough measures would be taken to ensure the safety of Jews in Jerusalem.”
He insisted that the U.N. Security Council bares “some responsibility” for the murders, because it “condemned Israel for the death of Arabs on the Temple Mount but never felt the need to adopt a resolution when Jews were murdered by Arab terrorists.”
The police announced shortly after the killings that starting Monday, West Bank Arabs would not be allowed into Jerusalem. There was no indication how long the ban would be in effect.
Police Inspector General Ya’acov Terner said the measure was taken “to prevent acts of terrorism and public disorder.”
Entry to other parts of Israel from the West Bank was also limited as special security measures were implemented countrywide.
Although the assailant clearly acted alone, two rival terrorist organizations proclaimed responsibility for the murders.
Credit was claimed by Force 17 of Al Fatah, an elite commando unit of the Palestine Liberation Organization, and by a party calling itself the Al-Aksa Battalion of Islamic Jihad. Al-Aksa is the mosque where the Oct. 8 killings took place.
News of the killings reached the Cabinet at its regular weekly session Sunday.
Shamir called the stabbings an act of despair by Palestinian militants who realize that terrorist organizations achieve nothing.
Ministers on the right wing of the Israeli political spectrum demanded severe measures.
CALLS FOR THE DEATH PENALTY
Agriculture Minister Rafael Eitan of the Tsomet party called for spot checks of Arab workers for knives or other weapons. He said the suspect’s family should be deported and his house demolished.
Transportation Minister Moshe Katsav and Religious Affairs Minister Avner Shaki called for the death penalty for the perpetrator.
Tehiya party leader Yuval Ne’eman, the minister of science and energy, blamed the Israeli left for the death of Shloush, the police trainee. He claimed that the political doves are “terrorizing the courts and the judicial system” so that soldiers and police officers are afraid to shoot without first consulting a lawyer.
He was joined by Eitan, a former Israel Defense Force chief of staff who wants the standing orders changed so that soldiers and police know they can open fire without fear of prosecution.
Milo agreed that when a member of the security forces is threatened he should “instantly” shoot to kill. But he said the standing orders are adequate.