In Israel, a solitary act of destruction Grievances end in reciprocal deaths

July 31, 1992|By Doug Struck | Doug Struck,Jerusalem Bureau

JERUSALEM -- Israel has 1.3 million visitors a year. Most of them go to the Wailing Wall, many through the southeastern gate of the Old City, called the Dung Gate.

It is not a glamorous entrance. Inside, a large concrete plaza around the Wailing Wall greets the tourists. Outside is a driveway usually choked with maneuvering buses.

A policeman was stabbed to death and another wounded here yesterday as they directed traffic. Their Palestinian attacker was killed, shot in the head by another policeman, and again in the leg by a bus driver.

It was news here, of course. But not very big news. It happens routinely: one man with a knife intent on a solitary act of destruction.

This is the toll of the hatreds nurtured here. It has become an expected payment.

As the Arab's body baked in the sun, a woman brought her 3-year-old to the edge of the small crowd to see. The vendor selling colas continued his trade. The bus drivers cursed the traffic gridlock, and tourists moved squeamishly past the scene to the wall.

Just another stabbing.

They are not callous, those who paused only momentarily at the sight. They are inured. There have been too many such attacks, on schoolgirls, on police officers, on teachers, on bread sellers, on bystanders. On Jews and Arabs.

The policeman died, was revived, and died again. He stopped breathing, lying there on the hot asphalt driveway where he fell. Paramedics worked long and hard on him, with electric shocks and ventilators. They managed to get a weak response but not enough to get him to the hospital alive.

There was a symmetry to the way they lay, the corpse of the Palestinian and the barely alive policeman. The dead Arab's hand touched the foot of the policeman, even as the paramedics labored furiously over the officer.

It would have seemed a tender pose, but the Palestinian's hand was still curled as if around a knife. An investigator had pried it from the death-grip and was walking around with the weapon. It was long and narrow and bloody.

L The policeman was a chubby man, 39, with the physique of one

accustomed to directing traffic, not fighting terrorists. His attacker was lean and dusty. He wore paint-splattered workman's pants and a light jacket in the heat. Crimson rivers joined from the men and moved slowly down the driveway.

The police said the attacker was from Silwan, an Arab neighborhood within sight of the Dung Gate. Silwan is a poor and angry place, neglected by city services and embittered by the radical Jews who have evicted Arabs and settled within armed camps to try to claim the land.

Before his name was announced, the police proclaimed his politics: His family is in Fatah, the main branch of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

They did not know if he was involved in the dispute with the Jewish settlers, they said, though his family, Karyoun, is a large one in Silwan. They later gave his name: Saleh Mohammed Karyoun, 24, an unmarried laborer.

Dadi Pinchas, the policeman, was married. He had three children.

A witness said the Palestinian approached the two policemen and, without saying anything, stabbed Officer Yosef Yahuda in the stomach and side. He then apparently grabbed Officer Pinchas from the back, stabbing him repeatedly in the abdomen and chest.

A 25-year-old bus driver who gave his name only as Maer was waiting nearby for the return of his clients, a bus load of Lebanese Jews who had traveled to the Old City for a bar mitzvah.

"I came from the bus, and got the gun from the policeman who was injured. He couldn't grab the gun," Maer said. He shot Karyoun in the leg, apparently just as another policeman raced up and shot the attacker with an automatic rifle. That shot split his head.

Officer Yahuda was rushed to the hospital. His injuries were described as moderate.

Maer stayed to give his story to police while the paramedics worked vainly to reverse the ebb of Officer Pinchas' life. It was a warm day, and Maer wore no shirt. His chest was splattered with blood, and his hand was stained red. No one offered him a cloth.

When the officers were finished, Maer climbed into the driver's seat of his bus. His passengers were aboard, so he backed the vehicle carefully down the hill and left.

On the dark streets of Silwan last night, the young men who know the commerce of hatred between Jews and Arabs said Karyoun had plotted a revenge. He had been beaten by police a few days ago in a routine roundup after some car burnings, and he blamed Officer Pinchas, said Mohammed, 25. "He told all the people he was going to kill that policeman," Mohammed said.

Nearby, in the neat home of Karyoun's father, men sat on stools and chairs to offer condolences. The dead man's family denied the theory of revenge.

"When he left here his morning, he was happy," said Karyoun's father, a 63-year-old electric company worker.

In his honor, the "shabaab" -- young men -- of Silwan pelted army trucks with stones last night. The army sent in reinforcements. The clatter of automatic weapons fired into the air under the eerie glow of flares ricocheted toward the Dung Gate.

It was a fitting tribute to just another stabbing.

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