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Jerusalem Mayor Tells Israelis to Carry Firearms at All Times

Four Jews have suffered violent attacks in Israel in the last week, spurring Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to urge all citizens possessing firearms and trained in their use to carry their weapons at all times to defend themselves.

“The mayor encourages licensed gun owners to carry their weapons to increase security. He himself serves as a personal example of this,” read an official statement issued by the mayor.

Barkat carried a Glock 23 hand-gun with a pistol-to-carbine conversion kit while visiting an Arab neighborhood in east Jerusalem on Monday, a move that drew some criticism. Barkat’s office said that as a former military officer the mayor was licensed to carry the weapon. His office later released a picture of the weapon along with the mayor’s gun license.

Earlier this year Barkat made headlines after stopping a knife attack in the Old City.

“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,” Barkat told Israel’s Army Radio.

“In a way, it’s like military reserve duty,” he said.

In recent days a 25-year-old orthodox Jew was stabbed in Jerusalem and is hospitalized in serious condition. Police said they had arrested the assailant in Jerusalem, a 19-year-old man.

A female soldier was attacked near the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, while a settler was shot at the entrance of the Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba, near Hebron, in the West Bank.

“Many terror attacks in Jerusalem have been prevented or neutralized due to the quick actions and response of responsible bystanders,” the mayor’s office said.

The Jerusalem Police reportedly intend to establish an “Arabic Section” to monitor social media in order to spot information on possible attacks being planned. In two recent cases, terrorists posted their intentions on Facebook prior to carrying out attacks. On Wednesday, a Palestinian woman stabbed an Israeli man in the Old City after posting on Facebook that she was going to “become a martyr.” The stab victim shot her with his handgun and wounded her critically.

Similarly, a Palestinian man stabbed Aharon Banita and Nehemia Lavi to death in the Old City Saturday after having posted on Facebook that a “third intifada” was coming. The attacker was shot and killed by police.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was forced to cancel his appearance a European summit due to the violence, has also warned Israelis to be on guard.

“Civilians are at the forefront of the war against terrorism and must also be on maximum alert,” Netanyahu said.

Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome

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