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Palestinian Entry to Tel Aviv Curbed in Wake of Bus Knifings

Police have tightened restrictions on the entry of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza Strip into Tel Aviv, following Sunday’s deadly knife assault by three West Bank Arabs on bus passengers near Tel Aviv.

Roadblocks were set up Monday on the main highways to make sure that no Arab from the territories could enter the Tel Aviv area without a work permit.

In the attack, which took place between Bnei Brak and Ramat Gan, a 24-year-old yeshiva student from Jerusalem, Ya’acov Baruch Heisler, was fatally stabbed and three other passengers wounded.

Thousands of Orthodox Jews attended Heisler’s funeral Sunday evening at the Har Hamenuhot cemetery in the Givat Shaul quarter of Jerusalem.

In the attack on Dan line bus No. 66 from Petach Tikva to Tel Aviv, one Arab assailant was shot to death by a police explosives expert who happened to be riding in a vehicle behind the bus. The other two assailants were injured and are in custody.

Police have also made it clear they are taking harsher measures to enforce the ban on Arabs carrying knives. Any Arab caught with a knife will be dealt with severely, police said.

The immediate result of the new restrictions was a massive traffic jam that had vehicles backed up more than 12 miles. Traffic monitors in helicopters and low-flying airplanes kept motorists informed of conditions by radio.

The police announced that more roadblocks would be set up, which portends even more traffic chaos.

Meanwhile, the Israel Defense Force has sealed the homes of the three bus assailants in two villages near Nablus.

The Arab shot to death after the stabbings was identified as Omar Dawikat. The two in custody are Husni Sawalha and Abd Sawalha. None of the men had police records or appear to be affiliated with any terrorist group. The authorities believe they acted on their own.

The three wounded Israelis were reported in stable condition Monday at Beilinson Hospital in Petach Tikva. They were identified as Avishag Cohen, 19, and Shmuel Cohen, 16, both from Bnei Brak, and Becky Malka, 18, of Rishon le-Zion.

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