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Palestinian Stabs 3 Jews to Death in Jerusalem : Israel: Attack is viewed as revenge for Temple Mount killings. Shamir blames the U.N. for fostering violence.

October 22, 1990|DANIEL WILLIAMS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian teen-ager rampaged through a placid Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem early Sunday and fatally stabbed a woman and two men--an unarmed soldier, a garden store owner and a police officer who shot the assailant twice in the leg before being knifed in the chest.

Israel Army Radio characterized the attack as an act of revenge for the Oct. 8 bloodshed on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem's Old City, when Israeli police shot and killed 21 Palestinians during a disturbance. The suspected attacker, Omar Said Salah abu Sirhan, lives in a village near Bethlehem, Israel Radio said.

A variety of militant groups claimed responsibility for Sunday's slayings, including Islamic Jihad and Force 17, believed to be a Palestine Liberation Organization assassination squad.

The one-day toll of Israeli fatalities was the highest within Jerusalem city limits since the Palestinian uprising against Israeli rule began almost three years ago. A 13-year-old boy, also a target of Sunday's attack, survived wounds to the head, neck and chest and was released from Hadassah Hospital in the evening.

The stabbings coincide with bitter government reaction to a resolution passed by the U.N. Security Council and backed by the United States that condemned Israeli police handling of the Temple Mount disturbance.

A spokesman for Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir blamed the U.N. action for creating a climate that encourages outbreaks of violence.

"The base murders in Jerusalem are one of the results of the atmosphere that was created primarily by the denunciation of Israel in the Security Council that encourages extremist Arab elements to attack Jews," said the spokesman, Avi Pazner.

Shocked residents of the tree-shaded Baka neighborhood, where the slayings took place, gathered to pay condolence visits to relatives of the victims, all of whom lived within a block of each other. Flowers placed by neighbors marked the spots where the victims fell.

On nearby Hebron Road, angered Israeli mobs threw stones at Palestinian-plated cars and beat several Israeli photojournalists who arrived to cover the incident. After responding slowly to the mob attacks, police hustled Arab construction workers out of half-completed buildings in Baka to safety.

The spin of violence and revenge has become a familiar feature of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Jerusalem, where Jewish and Arab neighborhoods nudge up against each other with tense hostility. In recent months, the city has become a focal point of violence in the Arab uprising.

Omar Said Salah abu Sirhan, 19, walked into Baka at about 7 a.m.; radio reports say he had worked on a construction site in the neighborhood. Reports said he first set upon Iris Azulai, 18, who was walking home from an early grocery trip. He reportedly stabbed her repeatedly with what police called a commando knife, with a 15-inch blade. Azulai died 30 feet from her home.

A woman walking her dog pursued as residents, alerted by screams and barking dogs, poured out of their houses.

"At first, I thought there was a mad dog on the loose," said Tala Shive, a local resident. "Usually, that's the worse thing that ever happens in this neighborhood."

The Palestinian then attacked the 13-year-old, who was on his way to school. Apparently frightened off by the barking dogs, the assailant ran south down the narrow street and stabbed Eli Eltratz, 43, who was carrying plants to his shop. The victim ran to a nearby apartment complex and screamed for help before falling dead in a driveway.

Nearby, an off-duty police officer, Charlie Chelouche, 28, identified as a member of a police anti-terrorist squad, ran into the street and fired his pistol five times. Israel Radio said he first shot into the air before firing at the attacker's leg.

Shouting "God is Great," the wounded Palestinian reportedly charged the police officer and stabbed him before other residents pinned him to the ground. He was hustled into a van and taken away for questioning.

"The Arab looked just as calm as could be," said the woman who first gave chase and saw him seated in the van. "He didn't look like he thought he was doing something special."

Baka, which before the 1948 establishment of Israel was a wealthy Arab neighborhood, is home to middle-class and professional residents, many of whom belong to national peace movements. Some Israeli protesters threw rocks at the houses of peace activists as they marched to Hebron Road.

Immediately after the slayings, police fanned out through the city to keep watch on possible flash points where Palestinian and Israeli neighborhoods meet.

Rightist politicians called for the reinstatement of the death penalty, which in the past has been reserved for Nazi war criminals.

"We must put an end to this soft way of dealing with the killers. Those who attack us must be immediately killed," said Tzahi Hanegbi, a Parliament member from the ruling Likud Party.

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