Palestinian stabbing attacks: Fear on the streets of Israel following latest incident

'When the Arabs go around with knives, we need guns,' says Meir Cohen, an Israeli teacher armed with a pistol

Ben Lynfield
Thursday 08 October 2015 21:02 BST
Metal detectors were in use in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday
Metal detectors were in use in Jerusalem’s Old City on Thursday (EPA)

Fear is gripping the main street of Jewish West Jerusalem despite a heavy police presence as a spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks spread across Israel and the occupied West Bank.

At a light rail station on Jaffa Road, Rachel Elisha, who assists the mentally ill and visits them at their homes across Jerusalem, said she was frightened about making her rounds, after the latest attack in which a 25-year-old seminary student was seriously wounded. “I’m continuing my work but it’s really frightening and shocking,” she said.

“I’m not a paranoid person but I am looking to the left and to the right all the time now. To see a person who didn’t do anything end up with a knife in his neck scares me. It can happen to anyone.”

In Tel Aviv, a soldier and three civilians were wounded by a screwdriver-wielding Palestinian who was shot dead by a soldier after a chase, police said. Soon after that attack, a Palestinian stabbed and severely wounded an Israeli man in the West Bank’s Kiryat Arba settlement. An army spokeswoman said forces were searching for the assailant.

After stabbing incidents on Wednesday, Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, called on citizens with gun licences to carry their weapons at all times. At the light rail station, residents voiced support for the mayor’s call. “When the Arabs go around with knives, we need guns,” said Meir Cohen, a 35-year-old teacher who was armed with a pistol.

Four Israelis have been killed in attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank over the past week. Seven Palestinians, including four alleged attackers, have been killed in the unrest. Tensions have been high in recent weeks with Palestinians accusing Israel of trying to institute Jewish prayer at the expense of Muslim primacy at al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third-holiest site which is also revered by Jews. Israel denies changing the status quo and, in an attempt to dampen down the dispute, the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has barred Israeli MPs and ministers from making visits to the compound.

But Palestinians are enraged at the perceived incursion against their core beliefs, and the new curbs may have come too late to undo the damage of repeated clamouring by right-wing politicians for Jewish prayer at the site. “They want to make a Jewish temple on the mosque,” said a 19-year-old psychology student near the Damascus Gate entrance to the walled old city, close to the site of a deadly stabbing of Israelis on Saturday.

She spoke after a peaceful protest in which she and about 20 other young Jerusalem Palestinian women sang nationalist songs as they sat on the steps opposite the gate. Their singing was broken up by paramilitary border police who, without any provocation or notice, manhandled the women and threw a stun grenade. The young woman declined to give her name out of fear of being arrested.

Join our commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies


Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in