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Israel boosts Jerusalem's security after lethal attacks

Peter Enav
Associated Press

Jews mourn over victims of an attack by two Palestinians on Jewish worshippers.

Jerusalem — Hundreds of police reinforcements fanned out across Jerusalem and concrete barriers were erected in some Arab neighborhoods as Israel tightened security in the city Wednesday following a deadly Palestinian attack on a synagogue.

Streets were subdued, marketplaces were quiet and people were on edge in Jewish areas of Jerusalem, where Arabs have been using meat cleavers, guns, screwdrivers and even their cars in deadly, small-scale attacks.

The holy city — which Israel says must forever stay united — has rarely seemed more divided.

The security measures follow the killing of four rabbis — Moshe Twersky, former Oak Park resident Aryeh Kupinsky, Kalman Levine and Avraham Goldberg — and an Israel police officer on Tuesday when assailants attacked a synagogue during morning prayers.

In their 47th year of occupation, Palestinians are seething with anger over neglect and discrimination, continued Jewish settlement in their areas, and a belief, despite official denials, that Israel is scheming to take over their most revered site.

This anger, coupled with Jewish fears of further violence, has left the city's 800,000 residents apprehensive, seemingly united in the belief that things will get worse before they get better.

"I'm really not safe, and before leaving the house I think twice," said Sara Levi, a 22-year-old stay at home mother. "We are not calm, and we hope there is going to be an end to this, and that it is not just a beginning."

In a separate attack, a Palestinian gunman on a motorcycle shot and seriously wounded a prominent Jewish activist who has pushed for greater Jewish access to the city's most sensitive holy site — the hilltop compound known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

The violence reached a new turning point Tuesday when two Palestinian attackers burst into a crowded synagogue with the meat cleavers and gunfire.

Those deaths brought to 11 the number of people killed by Palestinian attacks — most of them in Jerusalem — but also in Tel Aviv and the West Bank in recent weeks. At least five Palestinians involved in the attacks were killed.

In Jewish parts of Jerusalem, traffic was lighter than usual Wednesday.

"Business is weak today. It was worse yesterday," vegetable salesman Itzik Shimon said as he stood at his empty stall. "People are afraid. Can you blame them?"

Bloomberg News contributed.