East Jerusalem Becomes Focus Of The Conflict, And The Mood Is Bleak : Parallels Palestinians in East Jerusalem were not often involved in the violence in the past, but this area is the center of the current friction between Israelis and Palestinians.

East Jerusalem Becomes Focus Of The Conflict, And The Mood Is Bleak

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Eight Israelis have been killed in the violence this month, many stabbed with knives by Palestinians. At least 18 suspects have been killed at the scenes of these attacks. Several of those suspects grew up in East Jerusalem where Israeli security forces have put up new roadblocks and barriers. NPR's Alice Fordham reports the mood there is bleak.

ALICE FORDHAM, BYLINE: A line of idling cars stretches downhill waiting to be allowed to leave their neighborhood via a road partially sealed off by police. Around the corner, driver Waleed Mattar has stopped the school bus at a row of new sharp-edge concrete cubes blocking his usual route.

WALEED MATTAR: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: The kids now have to walk a couple miles home. This is a Palestinian neighborhood in Jerusalem called Jabel Mukaber, population somewhere over 20,000, median age 18.

ADEL AWEISAT: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: Shop owner Adel Aweisat tells me these tougher restrictive measures are ratcheting up pressure here. Israel's security cabinet said they erected blocks and barriers because of safety concerns. In a recent meeting, the cabinet said some Palestinian neighborhoods are, quote, "centers of friction and incitement." At least three alleged attackers in incidents this month grew up here.

AHMED AWEISAT: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: We have to leave our car at the concrete blocks, so we hitch a ride with Ahmed Aweisat. He's 21, studying to be a dentist. Plenty of people here have qualifications. Some have decent jobs. But still, he says, being a Palestinian in Jerusalem is hard.

AHMED AWEISAT: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: He points out a wall cutting off another Arab area, a checkpoint, a watchtower and a road only Israeli security forces are allowed to drive along. He doesn't endorse attacks on Israelis but says they stem from frustrations everyone feels.

FORDHAM: We visit another branch of the Aweisat family. They are receiving condolences. Two of their boys were shot dead by police - Baha, who was 23, and 16-year-old Moataz. Police say Baha was involved in a fatal attack on civilians in a bus, and Moataz tried to stab a police officer on another occasion. The family say the younger boy would never have done that, though they don't deny the charge against his older cousin. When I speak with Baha's father, Mohammad, he tells me he himself was convicted in 1975 of a bombing which killed 15 civilians.

MOHAMMAD AWEISAT: (Foreign language spoken).

FORDHAM: He expresses no regret for his actions or for his sons, but says he's surprised nothing's changed in 40 years. He had hoped his children would have a different life. And many Palestinian youth say that their elders have failed them. In a cafe by the Hebrew University, I meet Budour Hassan, a master's student and blogger.

BUDOUR HASSAN: Yes. They are totally disillusioned.

FORDHAM: Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized Palestinian leaders for inciting violence. But Hasssan says young people aren't listening to Palestinian politicians.

HASSAN: You know, they are not waiting for anyone because they know that no one's coming, you know? They're not waiting for Arab leaders. They're not waiting for Palestinian leaders.

FORDHAM: She sees those leaders as failures. Some tried diplomacy - others, violence. But she says none improved the lives of Palestinians. Hassan doesn't condone the recent attacks but says many young people here no longer see any peaceful or political way forward. Alice Fordham, NPR news, Jerusalem.

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