JERUSALEM, OCT. 21 -- An Arab construction worker wielding a 16-inch knife attacked and killed three Israeli Jews this morning in a normally quiet West Jerusalem neighborhood, reigniting passions between Arabs and Jews here less than two weeks after bloody riots at the Old City's Temple Mount.
Following the early morning killings, which ended when the worker was subdued and arrested, crowds of angry Jews attacked Arabs and journalists and stoned cars on roads leading to the occupied West Bank. Police ordered heavy reinforcements onto the streets to prevent further violence.
The Arab assailant, 19-year-old Omar Said Salah Abu Sirhan from a village near Bethlehem, shouted "Allahu akhbar" -- "God is great" -- as he stabbed his victims. Authorities quoted him as saying he wanted to avenge the deaths of the at least 19 Palestinians shot by police in the clashes Oct. 8 at the Temple Mount, known to Arabs as Haram Sharif.
Israeli radio said callers to local stations attributed the attack to two militant groups, Force 17 of the Palestine Liberation Organization and Islamic Jihad. However, police quoted Abu Sirhan as saying he acted independently.
The three victims were Iris Azulai, 18, a soldier; Eli Alturatz, 43, a gardener; and Shalom Shlush, 26, an off-duty anti-terrorist policeman, who shot the Arab twice in the legs before being knifed to death. A 13-year-old boy also was attacked, but escaped with minor wounds, police said.
The violence erupted shortly before 7 a.m. in Baka, a mostly Jewish neighborhood where gentrification has turned the old stone homes of Arabs who lived in the area before its capture by Israel in 1948 into posh residences of the upper middle class, including many American-Israelis.
Witnesses said the assailant, who had worked at a construction site in the area, suddenly attacked Azulai as she walked away from her home, in uniform but unarmed.
"I saw a young man pounce on a young woman and stab her with deep wounds," said Tzipi Kleiner, a local resident. "I screamed, 'Murder!' and he began to run away."
After leaving Azulai on the ground and wounding the teenage boy, the attacker rounded a corner and set upon Alturatz, the owner of a nursery, who was carrying plants to a shop. He knocked him down and stabbed him repeatedly, witnesses said. Then, police said, he rose to confront Shlush, a member of an anti-terrorist unit of the paramilitary Border Police who ran out of his home when he heard screams.
Police said the policeman fired a warning shot into the air from his 9mm pistol, then fired at the attacker's legs, wounding him in both of them. Nevertheless, Abu Sirhan managed to reach Shlush and stabbed him in the chest with his knife, police said. He was then subdued by other local residents and turned over to police.
The deaths seemed to mark another of the vicious cycles of retaliatory violence by Jews and Arabs that have plagued Jerusalem throughout this year.
Authorities had expected attacks on police or soldiers in the wake of the Temple Mount killings, the most severe bloodshed in the 23-years of Israeli rule of predominantly Arab East Jerusalem.
In the wake of that riot, Israeli authorities said today, the two largest Palestinian organizations in the occupied territories, the PLO's Fatah and the Islamic Resistance Movement, or Hamas, issued leaflets calling for attacks on Israelis with lethal weapons such as knives and guns. In its leaflet, Hamas told supporters to "murder or kill any soldier or Jew." It named today and Monday as dates for attacks, although it said these should be in the form of arson against Israeli forests and agricultural fields.
Today's slayings prompted new calls by Israeli politicians for harsh measures against Palestinians. Police Minister Ronnie Milo said the Border Police officer should not have hesitated to "immediately" shoot dead the Arab attacker, rather than aiming at his legs. Other hard-line politicians in the government proposed that Palestinians from the occupied territories be banned from working in Israel.
Following the killings, several hundred Israelis gathered in Baka, and some attacked Arabs still working at construction sites. Eventually, a crowd of more than 100 Jews marched toward two major traffic arteries connecting West Jerusalem with Bethlehem, and began stoning Arab cars. The crowd broke windows in several cars and assaulted a number of people, including Arab journalists working for state TV.
To some degree, the crowd's movements and attacks appeared to be orchestrated by several young militants, who carried mobile telephones and steered followers toward targets. Police made no arrests, refusing to act even when approached by witnesses seeking to press claims of assault or vandalism.