Palestinians Attack Repeatedly Inside Israel, Killing ThreeAmy Teibel and Alisa Odenheimer
The worst Palestinian-Israeli violence since the 2014 Gaza Strip war escalated on Tuesday as Palestinians attacked Israelis four times in about 90 minutes, killing three people.
About 20 others were wounded in attacks in Jerusalem and the Tel Aviv suburb of Ra’anana, police and rescue officials said. The assailants were residents of east Jerusalem and two of them were killed, police said.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat said he would recommend the government take “drastic” measures to counter increasing attacks. Police said Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan was considering sealing off Arab neighborhoods in the city and easing gun licensing rules so citizens could defend themselves. The shekel slid the most in more than three weeks and the TA-25 benchmark Index for stocks lost the most in more than two weeks amid the security concerns.
Violence flared last month over Palestinian concerns that Israel wanted to change rules governing worship at a contested Jerusalem shrine holy to both Muslims and Jews. Israeli officials have denied the charge.
The unrest worsened with the killing of four Israelis earlier this month. Ensuing confrontations inside Israel, the West Bank and along the border with the Gaza Strip have led to the deaths of at least 26 Palestinians, many of them attackers. Fanning the flames is the breakdown of peace talks more than a year ago.
A Jewish man stabbed another Jewish man at the Ikea complex in northern Israel on Tuesday, apparently mistaking him for an Arab, police said.
Benedetta Berti, a research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said repeated attacks represent a “serious escalation.”
“It’s a combination of rising frustration, a growing sense that the Palestinian leadership lacks legitimacy, a lack of hope for a political solution and a growing sense of disenfranchisement among Israeli Arabs,” Berti said by phone. “When the genie is out of the bottle it becomes very hard to contain it.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu accuses Islamist groups, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Arab lawmakers of inciting violence. The Palestinians blame the Israeli occupation of territories they want as their future state, and stalemated peacemaking.
Golan Gabai witnessed the first of three attacks in Jerusalem.
“I saw one person stabbing while the other sat down in the driver’s seat and tried to hijack the bus,” Gabai told Channel 2 TV. “I took my car and I blocked his way, and then he opened the doors and wanted to come at me with a knife. I shut my doors. He went away and came back with a gun. I turned my car around and left. Then the police came.”
The Palestinian Hamas movement that rules Gaza welcomed the attacks, and called for more violence over mosque loudspeakers.
“It’s not going to end,” Hanan Ashrawi, a Palestinian Authority official, said in a phone interview from Ramallah. “Maybe this latest protest movement will diminish for a while, but generation after generation, Palestinians are not going to succumb.”
Saeb Erekat, the Palestine Liberation Organization’s secretary-general, urged UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon to become involved.
Tuesday’s toll was heaviest in Jerusalem, where three people were killed. Attackers stabbed and shot people traveling on a bus, and rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders. Two other stabbings took place in Ra’anana.
Top political and security officials were convening Tuesday in an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis, the prime minister’s office said. Ofir Akunis, a minister without portfolio, urged the government to demolish attackers’ homes within 24 hours of violence, and deport their families.
The shekel lost 0.8 percent against the dollar, the most since Sept. 18, to 3.8658 at 3:30 p.m. in Tel Aviv. The TA-25 Index weakened the most since Sept. 29, and was down 1.5 percent.
Until Tuesday, investors hadn’t reacted to the upswing in violence. Israel’s credit-default swaps, contracts insuring the nation’s debt against default for five years, are at a two-month low. They have dropped four basis points this month, the sixth-biggest decline among 23 developed countries, to 65.98 basis points on Oct. 12, CMA prices show.