Israelis bury Jerusalem victims

Security is tightened after eight students die in deadly attack on religious school.

    Police said the attacker entered through the school's  main gate before opening fire in the library [AFP]

    Al-Aqsa restrictions
    Israel deployed thousands of police and set up road blocks across Jerusalem on Friday, Micky Rosenfeld, a police spokesman said.
    Police also limited Palestinian access to al-Aqsa mosque due to fears violence could break out in the Old City as both Jews and Muslims gathered for prayers.
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    The Israeli military, for its part, sealed off the occupied West Bank until Saturday night.

    The seminary assault was the bloodiest attack on Israelis in two years and the first such in four years in Jerusalem.

    "The time for us has come to understand that an external struggle as well as an internal struggle are raging," Rabbi Yaakov Shapira told mourners outside Merkaz Harav seminary.
    Shapira, who runs the well-known centre for Jewish studies linked to those leading the Jewish settler movement in the occupied West Bank, called for "stronger leadership" in Israel. 
    The seminary serves some 400 high school students and young Israeli soldiers, many of whom carry arms.

    Fighters killed


    As Israel buried the victims of Thursday's assault, its military kept up the pressure on Palestinian fighters.


    Two of them were wounded, including one seriously, late on Friday in an Israeli strike in the Gaza Strip, local medical sources and witnesses said.


    The two members of Izz  al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, were injured after Israeli forces fired at them east of Gaza City, the sources said.


    An Israeli army spokeswoman told the AFP news agency that ground forces fired a missile at a "group of armed men approaching the security fence near Nahal Oz" on the border with Gaza.


    Assailant's identity


    Earlier, Israeli defence officials said the perpetrator of Thursday's seminary assault came from east Jerusalem, the predominantly Arab section of the city which Israel captured and occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

    In contrast to Palestinians in the West Bank, those in Jerusalem have Israeli identification cards, allowing them relatively free movement inside Israel.

    East Jerusalem residents identified the
    attacker as Ala Abu Dhaim [Reuters]

    Police said the attacker, believed to be in his early 20s, worked for a private transport company but did not elaborate.
    Residents of East Jerusalem named the attacker as Ala Abu Dhaim.
    Rosenfeld, an Israeli police spokesman, said Abu Dhaim walked through the seminary's main gate and entered the library, armed with an assault rifle and pistol.
    At least six empty bullet clips were found on the floor, Rosenfeld said.
    Israeli police have arrested more than 10 relatives and friends of the Palestinian suspect, including his father who was released hours later.
    Fallout feared
    The incident could further complicate US-backed efforts to broker a deal for the creation of Palestine by the end of 2008.
    It followed a visit to the region by Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, who persuaded Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to resume peace talks he suspended over Israel's attacks on Gaza.
    Abbas has already condemned the Jerusalem assault.
    Saeb Erekat, an Abbas aide, said: "President Mahmoud Abbas condemns the attack in Jerusalem that claimed the lives of many Israelis and he reiterated his condemnation of all attacks that target civilians, whether they are Palestinians or Israelis."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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