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Jerusalem Attacks Kill Three           10/13 06:18

   JERUSALEM (AP) -- A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and 
began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car 
into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks 
Tuesday that escalated a monthlong wave of violence. Three Israelis and one 
attacker were killed.

   The Jerusalem attacks, along with two stabbings in a central Israeli city, 
marked the most serious outbreak of violence since the current round of 
tensions erupted. More than 15 people were wounded.

   The violence, coming at a time when peace prospects appear nil, have fueled 
a sense of panic in Israel and raised fears that the region is on the cusp of a 
new round of heavy violence.

   Police closed major highways leading in and out of Jerusalem, while Prime 
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of his Security 
Cabinet, where police were to present a plan to halt the violence. Police 
spokeswoman Luba Samri said the country's internal security minister, Gilad 
Erdan, was considering a number of immediate steps, including sealing off Arab 
neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, where many of the attackers have come from, 
and making it easier to get gun licenses.

   While Israelis are on edge over the random nature of the attacks, the 
long-running diplomatic deadlock has left many Palestinians feeling hopeless 
about their chances of ending nearly half a century of Israeli occupation.

   In the bus attack, police said two men, one carrying a gun and the other 
with a knife, boarded the vehicle and attacked passengers. Police said a 
60-year-old man was killed, and a second person who was wounded later died. One 
of the attackers was shot dead and the second attacker was subdued by a crowd.

   Elsewhere in Jerusalem, a Palestinian motorist rammed his vehicle into a 
crowded bus stop, then got out and began stabbing people. One Israeli was 
killed, police said.

   The Jerusalem attacks, coupled with a pair of stabbing attacks in the 
central Israeli city of Raanana that injured five, including one seriously, 
came in rapid succession. Emergency services said several of the wounded were 
in serious condition.

   At the scene of one of the attacks, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat called on the 
government to seal off the West Bank and certain Arab neighborhoods of east 
Jerusalem to quell the wave of attacks that have struck the city. Some 
government ministers have called for even more dramatic measures.

   Since the Jewish New Year last month, eight Israelis have been killed and 
dozens wounded in a series of attacks. At least 27 Palestinians been killed by 
Israeli fire, including 11 identified by Israel as attackers and the rest in 
clashes between stone-throwers and Israeli troops. Hundreds of Palestinians 
have been wounded in such confrontations.

   On Monday, Palestinians carried out three stabbings in Jerusalem, leaving a 
teenage Israeli boy in critical condition.

   The unrest began last month with clashes at Jerusalem's most sensitive holy 
site and quickly spread across Israel and into the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

   The Israeli military says hundreds of Palestinian protesters in Gaza 
gathered Tuesday near the Israeli border and threw stones and burning tires 
toward Israeli positions. The army says it is using "riot dispersal means" 
against the crowd.

   Palestinian medics say five people have been wounded by Israeli gunfire, two 
of them seriously. Over the weekend, nine Palestinians in Gaza, including a 
mother and her 2-year-old child, were killed in Israeli-Palestinian violence.

   Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for Gaza's Hamas rulers, said the movement 
"praises these heroic operations in Jerusalem and greets the heroes who carried 
them out."

   The attacks come at a time of deep despair for the Palestinians. Peace talks 
broke down more than a year ago, and prospects for relaunching diplomatic 
efforts to end the conflict appear slim. After years of diplomatic deadlock, 
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has seen his popularity plunge.

   The attackers, many of them teenagers, have had no affiliation with militant 
groups, and the seemingly random nature of the stabbings has made it difficult 
to predict or prevent them. The use of vehicles and firearms in Jerusalem on 
Tuesday, however, marked a more serious level of violence and bring back 
memories of the deadly attacks that plagued Israeli cities during last decade's 
second Palestinian uprising.

   Israeli security officials, however, said Tuesday's seemingly coordinated 
attacks indicated that the outburst of violence was starting to take on a more 
organized fashion, from groups behind the planning and those carrying out 
attacks. The officials, speaking anonymously according to regulations, said 
Israel expects the current wave to last at least a few more weeks.

   Netanyahu has come under heavy criticism for failing to stop the violence, 
and an opinion poll this week showed that more than 70 percent of the public is 
dissatisfied with his handling of the crisis.

   Some of the attacks have been carried out by members of Israel's Arab 
minority, who often encounter discrimination and identify with their 
Palestinian brethren in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and Gaza Strip.

   In a fiery speech to parliament on Monday, Netanyahu accused the country's 
Arab leaders of helping incite weeks of violence.

   Israeli Arab towns called a general strike Monday to protest recent tensions.

   The violence erupted over the Jewish New Year last month, fueled by rumors 
that Israel was plotting to take over a site holy to both Muslims and Jews. The 
rumors ignited clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian activists who 
hurled stones and firebombs at them from inside the mosque, and the violence 
has spread.

   Israel has dismissed the rumors and repeatedly said there are no plans to 
alter a longstanding status quo at the spot, revered by Jews as the site of the 
biblical Temples and today home to Islam's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.


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