A picture caption in some editions on Dec. 15 erred in referring to "three men" stabbed to death in Tel Aviv. One of the victims was a woman. (Published 1/5/91)
JERUSALEM, DEC. 14 -- Three Israelis were stabbed to death this morning in an aluminum workshop in Jaffa, near Tel Aviv. Police said the suspected assailants are two brothers, Palestinians from the Gaza Strip who are members of the Islamic fundamentalist Hamas movement.
The stabbings came at the beginning of the fourth year of the Palestinian uprising and seemed sure to increase tensions between Jews and Arabs in Israel. Police Minister Roni Milo said he would ask the cabinet for new restrictions to keep Palestinians from the Israeli-occupied territories from crossing into Israel.
Police said the killings were the most brutal in the Tel Aviv area since the beginning of the uprising. Two long commando knives were found near the bodies and slogans supporting Hamas were scrawled on the walls. Police said the killings were to mark the anniversary of the founding of Hamas and said they were searching for the two brothers from the Gaza Strip, one of whom worked in the factory for several months.
"The slogans on the walls accept responsibility and are clear," said Police Inspector General Yakov Turner. "They came for only one reason -- to murder."
Two of those killed were workers at the factory, Yehoshua Hakmaz, 40, and Iris Asarov, 22. The third victim, Moshe Ivan, 30, worked at a nearby upholstery factory. He was killed when he tried to help the first two victims. The bodies were discovered by a clerk, who arrived to find the factory gates locked.
Hundreds of angry workers and local residents rushed to the scene of the crime. They shouted "death to the Arabs!" and threw stones at cars of Palestinians. Several Arabs were beaten and a car was overturned and burned. At least three windshields were smashed as thousands of Arab workers tried to flee the area.
Police deployed in force to try to prevent revenge attacks by angry Jews and several Jews were arrested. Police also detained dozens of Arabs for questioning.
It was the worst attack in Tel Aviv since an Israeli was killed and three others injured on a Tel Aviv bus two weeks ago. Two months ago, a Palestinian stabbed to death three Israelis in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Baka. Since then, thousands of Arab workers have been fired from their jobs and replaced with new Soviet Jewish immigrants. After the Baka killings, Israel closed off the occupied territories for three days and no Palestinians were allowed in to work.
After today's attack, Tel Aviv Mayor Shlomo Lahat repeated his demand for a ban on the entry of all Palestinians into Israel to work. Some right-wing politicians also called on the government to deport leaders of the uprising.
"How many more victims will we sacrifice until the government of Israel works to eliminate the Palestinian uprising?" asked Rehavaam Zeevi, leader of the far-right Moledet party, in a telegram to Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.
Left-wing Israelis had a different response. They condemned the killings, but also blamed the government for not opening a dialogue with the Palestinians.
"It strengthens those who say Israel should leave the Gaza Strip," said Shinui party legislator Avraham Poraz. "We should let the Palestinians govern themselves there."
On Sunday, Shamir's cabinet will discuss measures to limit the violence. They may decide to close the territories temporarily or limit the number of Palestinians allowed to enter. More than /110,000 Palestinians come to work in Israel every day. In the past few weeks, police have set up dozens of roadblocks to check Palestinians for weapons.
Both Hamas and the Unified Leadership of the Uprising, affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization, have called for stepped-up attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians. Israeli security officials are concerned that the Palestinian uprising is moving toward a more violent stage in which killings will become common.
The current cycle of violence began when Israeli border police shot dead 17 Palestinians during a riot on Jerusalem's Temple Mount in October. Since then, Palestinians have carried out a series of stabbing attacks on Jews, killing seven and injuring dozens.