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Palestinian Kills 2 Israelis in Jerusalem

JERUSALEM — A Palestinian teenager fatally stabbed two Orthodox Jewish men inside Jerusalem’s Old City on Saturday night, the Israeli police said.

It was the second fatal attack on an Israeli family in three days. A woman was also wounded in the stabbing, and the police said that the Palestinian wrested a gun from one of his victims and fired at tourists and security forces, wounding a 2-year-old girl.

The police shot and killed the attacker, a 19-year-old identified as Muhanad Halabi, a law student whose Facebook profile had a post late Friday night saying that “the third intifada has begun.”

“I do not think the people will accept humiliation,” the post said, referring to the escalating clashes between Muslim worshipers and the Israeli authorities and Jewish visitors at a contested holy site in the Old City. “The people will rise up; indeed, we are rising up.”

The grisly attack came as the Israeli Army announced that it had arrested Palestinian suspects in connection with the drive-by shooting Thursday night of an Israeli couple in front of their four children as they drove between settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Israeli officials said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called an emergency meeting of top security officials in Tel Aviv for Sunday afternoon, as soon as Mr. Netanyahu returns from New York, where he and his Palestinian counterpart, Mahmoud Abbas, both spoke ominously about the rising tension and violence last week at the United Nations.

Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition in Parliament, was one of several politicians who blamed Mr. Netanyahu for not doing enough to keep Israelis safe.

“His government has shown ineptitude and absolute failure in handling security,” Mr. Herzog wrote in a Facebook post. “Another family in Israel has been destroyed as a result of a murderous terrorist attack,” Mr. Herzog added. “The despicable terrorists need to be punished to the full extent of the law, but the government needs a policy and action and not talk and statements and hollow slogans.”

Palestinian militant groups and individuals praised the attack as “heroic.” “Oh brother, may a thousand mercies and light descend on you,” someone named Omar Nasser wrote on the youth’s Facebook page.

In another post, Salah Mattour addressed Mr. Halabi directly as a hero and said, “Do you remember the days of school when you were little, only in your body, but by God your intelligence was great.”

The group Islamic Jihad said in a statement: “We bless this operation in Jerusalem and confirm that Israel is paying the price of its aggressive occupation and the resistance will continue and increase.”

Hussam Badran, a spokesman for Hamas, said the attack “confirms that the Palestinians would not surrender” to Israeli actions at the holy sites and throughout Jerusalem.

The police did not immediately identify the victims, but the Israeli media said one of the dead was Aharon Benita-Bennett, 22, the father of the 2-year-old girl who was shot and that her mother, 22, was in moderate to serious condition. They were apparently headed to the Western Wall to pray.

One woman who was stabbed ran to alert border police officers about 50 yards away, the police said. Soud Abu Sbeih, the Palestinian owner of a supermarket nearby, said the police “began shooting like crazy” and evacuated everyone from the store.

The pair of deadly attacks on Israelis followed weeks of intense clashes at the Old City site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. Mr. Abbas in his United Nations speech accused Israel of trying to change the status quo at the site, which bars non-Muslim prayer, or to divide it; Mr. Netanyahu denied this in his own speech, and accused Mr. Abbas of inciting the violence.

The Israeli military, which had added four battalions of troops to the West Bank after Thursday’s fatal shooting of Eitam and Naomi Henkin, on Saturday night released video showing scores of heavily armed soldiers marching through the West Bank city of Nablus. They entered several buildings and took at least two men away in handcuffs, according to the video.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, refused to say how many people were arrested overall and whether they included the actual gunmen.

Avigdor Lieberman, leader of the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party and a frequent critic of Mr. Netanyahu, posted a photo from the scene of Saturday night’s attack on Facebook with the caption: “This is what a loss of control and deterrence looks like.”

Yair Lapid of the centrist Yesh Atid party told Channel 2 News that “there is no security in the state of Israel today,” adding, “This is a clear accusatory finger at this government.”

Ali Jarbawi, a Palestinian analyst, said it was still “too early” to define the growing violence as a third intifada, but said, “This is an S O S to the world: Either intervene, or the situation is likely to get worse.”

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(via NY Times)