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Netanyahu vows more Israelis will settle in eastern Jerusalem

JERUSALEM, Nov. 23 (JTA) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to continue expanding the Jewish presence in eastern Jerusalem. The premier made the statement Sunday after a visit to the site where a Jewish yeshiva student was gunned down and another seriously wounded last week in Jerusalem’s Old City. Gabriel Hirshberg, 26, was killed Nov. 19 by automatic gunfire as he was returning to his dormitory with another student, Binyamin Dell, 18, after studying late at the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva in the Old City. Dell was seriously wounded. “We will honor the memory of Gabi by our settlements of Jerusalem and our development and building,” Netanyahu said. Israeli security officials suspect that Palestinian police may have been involved in the attack because Hirshberg and Dell were fired on with Kalashnikov rifles, which are carried by Palestinian police, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported. Meanwhile, the director of the Ateret Cohanim Yeshiva, Mati Dan, said his group would respond to Hirshberg’s murder by having 18 more Jewish families move into the Muslim Quarter before the end of the year. On Sunday, some 20 yeshiva students began clearing and renovating one such building. Dan denied reports that police had forcibly removed the students from the site, saying they left at his directive. The yeshiva is partially funded by American millionaire Dr. Irving Moskowitz, who has bought several homes from Arabs in eastern Jerusalem as part of a campaign to settle Jews there. Palestinian officials denounced Netanyahu’s declaration about building in Jerusalem as a further provocation. In further violence, an attacker stabbed a yeshiva student Saturday in the Muslim Quarter. The student, who suffered minor wounds to his neck, told police he believed his attacker was a Palestinian. Jerusalem was at the center of a dispute last week between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, which vowed to thwart plans by the self-rule government to carry out a census of Palestinians living in the eastern portion of the city. The self-rule authority agreed in the Oslo accords not to conduct any activity in the eastern part of the capital.

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