JERUSALEM — The mayor of Jerusalem urged gun owners to carry their weapons at all times on Thursday in the wake of a slew of attacks and unrest in Israel and the West Bank.
"Given the current escalation [of violence] in the security situation, those with a licensed firearm who know what to do with it must go out with [their weapon]— it's an imperative," Mayor Nir Barkat told Army Radio. "In a way, it's like military reserve duty."
The announcement followed Wednesday’s attack in Jerusalem's Old City where an Israeli civilian shot a Palestinian woman after she stabbed him, according to Israeli police and medical officials. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has urged citizens to be on "maximum alert" after a wave of stabbings, shooting and clashes. Nearly 400 Palestinians were wounded in clashes on Wednesday alone, the Red Crescent told NBC News. That toll stands at almost 1,300 since Saturday.
Also on Thursday, Netanyahu barred all Jewish and Arab lawmakers from visiting a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem in an effort to stop recent street violence from spiraling further, according to a government official.
Confrontations around Jerusalem's Temple Mount — known in Arabic as the al Aqsa mosque complex and Islam's third holiest shrine — are also fueling the tensions. Many Palestinians believe Israel is trying to take over the complex, which Jews also revere. Israelis officials deny such claims but high-profile visits by politicians have led to deadly clashes in the past. A Sept. 29, 2000, visit led by then-Likud party chief Ariel Sharon helping spark the Palestinian uprising known as the second intifada.
Four Israelis have been killed in stabbings in Jerusalem and a drive-by shooting that left an American dad dead in the occupied West Bank in one week, and five Palestinians have been shot dead.