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Soldiers step up security in east Jerusalem

JERUSALEM -- Hundreds of soldiers fanned out in cities across Israel yesterday and authorities erected concrete barriers outside some Arab neighborhoods of east Jerusalem in a stepped-up effort to counter a monthlong wave of Palestinian violence.

Despite the security efforts, two new assaults were reported -- the stabbing of a 70-year-old Israeli woman outside a Jerusalem bus station and the attempted knifing of police officers outside the Old City.

Forces on the scene shot and killed the woman's attacker, described by Israel's internal security service Shin Bet as a 23-year-old Palestinian resident of Jerusalem who had been jailed from 2012 until earlier this year.

Police also shot and killed a 19-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank city of Hebron who they said had attacked the Jerusalem police officers.

The enhanced measures came as Israel struggles to contain the spiraling violence and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu faces heavy pressure from hard-liners to stamp out the attacks. The Palestinians called the new measures "collective punishment" that would only further inflame tensions.

The military's deployment marked the first implementation of steps approved by Israel's security cabinet early yesterday. The measures also include stripping attackers of their Jerusalem residency rights, demolishing assailants' homes and authorizing police to impose closures.

The attacks have been carried out mostly by young Palestinians apparently acting spontaneously with no affiliation to or backing from organized militant groups. That, coupled with the frequency of the attacks, which have killed eight Israelis this month, has unnerved Israelis who fear the violence could deteriorate into a new Palestinian uprising.

Palestinian leaders say the violence is the result of frustration and lack of hope for ending nearly 50 years of occupation and gaining independence.

Israeli police said 300 soldiers had been deployed in cities across Israel, joining a reinforced force of some 4,000 police officers already patrolling the streets and bus routes of Jerusalem. Police were seen yesterday waving through a line of cars as cranes placed concrete blocks at the entrances to Arab neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, where many of the assailants are from.

Israel said that as part of the new measures, the bodies of dead Palestinian attackers would not be returned to their families for burial. Israel's Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said the funeral processions often turn into "an exhibition of support for terror and incitement to murder."

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