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Yeshiva Student Slain in Old City Raises Fear of More Violent Crimes

A yeshiva student was brutally killed in the Old City around midnight Wednesday, a murder viewed by Israelis as a desperate attempt by Palestinian activists to rekindle the intifada in the wake of Iraq’s ignominious defeat by the U.S-led coalition forces.

The murder also raised concern in Israel that more violent crimes can be expected once Arab workers from the territories return in full strength to their jobs in Israel.

The victim, 25-year-old Elchanan Attali, was found by border police in an alley early Thursday morning with his throat cut and 13 stab wounds all over his body. Police believe he was killed by more than one assailant.

Attali was attacked near his school, the Ateret Cohanim yeshiva, which was established in the Moslem Quarter in 1986 in the belief living side by side would contribute to Arab-Jewish coexistence.

More than 1,000 people attended Attali’s funeral Thursday, which was without incident.

“He was murdered only because he was a Jew,” the victim’s brother, Nahalel Attali, said. “He did not carry arms,” he said. “He did not provoke them, he did not humiliate them.”

The murder prompted Police Minister Ronni Milo to renew his call for the death penalty. “We shall take unprecedented strong measures to prevent such trouble,” he declared.

Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir dismissed speculation that the murder, the first since the Persian Gulf war, pointed to a “turning point.” In his view, it was just a continuation of “the murderous and bloody path of our enemies.”

Meanwhile, Palestinians are showing signs of deep depression over the allied forces’ defeat of Iraq. The despair follows upon what seemed to be irrational jubilation in the West Bank over what was initially deemed Saddam Hussein’s “victory.”

Now, many who had supported Saddam Hussein have expressed anger at him for dragging his country and people into such a catastrophe.

They fear a solution of the Palestinian problem is more remote than ever.

Mayor Elias Freij of Bethlehem, one of the few Arab dignitaries in the West Bank who opposed Hussein’s invasion of Kuwait, expressed satisfaction Thursday over the cease-fire and said it was time to start new efforts for peace.

Palestinian activist Faisal Husseini said a cease-fire could have been achieved before the ground war started.

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