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      'Blocking the Street Will Not Stop the Blood': Violence Continues Despite Israel's Security Clampdown

      'Blocking the Street Will Not Stop the Blood': Violence Continues Despite Israel's Security Clampdown 'Blocking the Street Will Not Stop the Blood': Violence Continues Despite Israel's Security Clampdown 'Blocking the Street Will Not Stop the Blood': Violence Continues Despite Israel's Security Clampdown
      Photo by Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA

      Middle East

      'Blocking the Street Will Not Stop the Blood': Violence Continues Despite Israel's Security Clampdown

      By Harriet Salem

      A tough package of measures approved by Israel's security cabinet late on Tuesday appear to have done little to stymie violence in the country as two more stabbing attacks were carried out in the center of Jerusalem today and clashes continued in the West Bank.

      The emergency meeting to approve the steps was convened after a day of violence in the holy city on Tuesday that saw three Israelis killed and over 20 wounded by Palestinians in a series of stabbing, shooting, and vehicular attacks.

      Among the self-proclaimed "aggressive" measures being introduced by the Israeli authorities are closures of "centers of friction," including Palestinian neighborhoods in the occupied east of Jerusalem, and plans to revoke the citizenship of those involved in carrying out attacks. 

      The government also said it would no longer return the bodies of attackers to families and would instead bury them in cemeteries belonging to the army at the extreme edges of the country.

      'They say we are terrorists, but look at them, they have guns and we have only rocks'

      Seven Israelis and 32 Palestinians, including nine assailants, have been killed in the last two weeks of bloodshed.

      In the latest incident, on Wednesday afternoon, a Palestinian stabbed and moderately wounded a 70-year-old woman outside Jerusalem's central bus station, at the entrance to the city, before an officer shot him dead. 

      Two hours earlier, another Palestinian clad in military-style camouflage was also shot dead after he had attempted to stab paramilitary police at Damascus Gate, an entrance to Jerusalem's walled Old City.

      Israeli police stand guard at the scene as emergency teams remove the body of a Palestinian man who was shot by officers after he tried to stab them at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem. (Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA)

      Meanwhile, in West Bank, tensions continued to run high as hundreds of Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli security forces in Bethlehem following the funeral of 27-year-old Mutaz Zawahra who was shot by Israeli security forces during violent demonstrations on Tuesday. 

      "They say we are terrorists, but look at them, they have guns and we have only rocks," said Mahmoud a 15-year-old from the city wearing a keffiyeh to cover his face as Israeli forces fired tear gas in the direction of his group, which hurled stones and Molotov cocktails. "They are the killers, the terrorists, not us."

      Palestinian mourners carry the body of Mutaz Zawahra, 27, during his funeral at Duhaisha refugee camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem. (Photo by Abed Al Hashlamoun/EPA)

      In a Knesset meeting on Wednesday afternoon Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reaffirmed his commitment to doubling down on attackers to parliamentarians. 

      "Not only will they [terrorists] not enjoy rights, we'll exact the full price from them," he said. "Anyone who tries to harm us, his arm will be cut off. I'm sure the actions we will take will make the other side come to the realization that terrorism doesn't pay."

      A recent poll found that many Israelis do not think that Netanyahu, despite his tough talk, has been strong enough on security, with 73 percent saying they were disappointed with his handling of the current crisis.

      'I'm sure the actions we will take will make the other side come to the realization that terrorism doesn't pay.'

      Many of the terror attacks, including the brutal slaughter of an Orthodox Jew who was mowed down by a car and then hacked to death with a meat cleaver, have been caught on security cameras and then posted online. 

      "The impact of social media is huge," Michal Erlich a counselor with Natal-Israel's Trauma Center for victims of terror and war told VICE News. "Of course there is a genuine threat causing genuine fear but this is being greatly exacerbated by these videos shared 30 seconds after attacks, on YouTube, Facebook, and Whatsapp."

      As part of the newly approved security measures on Wednesday afternoon police closed a road on the southwest side of Jebel al-Mukaber — a mainly Palestinian neighborhood in east Jerusalem — to traffic, while on a road to the southeast residents leaving the area had identity documents checked on their way out and were frisked. Soldiers said more permanent concrete installations would be used to close the roads soon.

      Israeli police check Palestinian cars at the entrance of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebel al-Mukaber. (Photo by Atef Safadi)

      At least three of the perpetrators of recent attacks have come from Jebel al-Mukaber, but locals said that the checkpoints would only exacerbate tensions.

      "Netanyahu is a big stupid," said Dawood Badron, a 48-year-old sports psychologist who said soldiers attempted to prevent him passing through a checkpoint to his home. 

      "People here are laughing at this, blocking the street will not stop the blood. These people who want to carry out attacks will not be stopped because of a few concrete blocks in the road, they will find another way around this is very easy to do... everyone else will become angrier," he told VICE News.

      'You cannot reach in your pocket, you cannot run, you cannot even sneeze or they will shoot you'

      Other Palestinians said that the increased security measures are making them live in fear. "You cannot reach in your pocket, you cannot run, you cannot even sneeze or they will shoot you," Jihad, a hotel waiter told VICE News. 

      "My father has been arguing with his grandchildren because he doesn't want them to leave the house and be killed. It's dangerous for us to even walk the streets in these times," he added.

      In an emailed statement Human Rights Watch called Israel's moves to close down Palestinian areas of the city a "recipe for harassment and abuse."

      "Locking down East Jerusalem neighborhoods will infringe upon the freedom of movement of all Palestinian residents rather than being a narrowly tailored response to a specific concern," said Sari Bashi, the NGO's Israel and Palestine director.

      Follow Harriet Salem on Twitter: @HarrietSalem

      Reuters contributed to this report.

      Topics: middle east, war & conflict, israel, palestine, west bank, jerusalem, bethlehem

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