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Palestinian protesters run for cover from tear gas fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes on the Israeli border with Gaza in Bureij, Gaza Strip, on Thursday.Khalil Hamra/The Associated Press

Stabbing attacks against Jewish Israelis have tapered off the past two days, but buses in West Jerusalem remain half empty, sidewalks are nearly deserted and the only crowds are outside stores selling pepper spray.

Fear in Israel has been palpable this month as seven Jewish Israelis have been killed in random knife attacks carried out mostly in West Jerusalem by local Palestinians. The word is that Friday might be another "day of rage."

But, on the other side of town, in the Arab communities of East Jerusalem, the fear is no less real.

More than twice as many Palestinians have died violently in the first half of this month. Some 12 suspects have been killed by security forces at the scene, several others have reportedly been gunned down on suspicion of planning to attack someone.

Earlier this month, a 19-year-old Palestinian named Fadi Alloun was accosted in the early morning by a mob of Israelis, who accused him of carrying out a stabbing some time before. They prodded nearby police to shoot him. They did, seven times, even though a video recording of the incident showed he was wielding no weapon and posed no threat.

"Amidst the violence and unrest, the Israeli army and police are operating on a 'shoot to kill' policy," said Diana Buttu, a Canadian-born Arab Israeli and former adviser to Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas.

Any Palestinian found on the streets of West Jerusalem can expect to be stopped, searched and interrogated repeatedly by police and military patrols – as well as hassled and threatened by civilians.

Zain Said, a greengrocer in the Jabal Mukabbir neighbourhood of East Jerusalem, said he's afraid to let his children walk alone. "I accompany them every day to their school in Jerusalem, wait there and then walk home with them," he said.

Mr. Said leaves his own business unattended most of the day. "It doesn't matter; there's hardly any customers these days," he said.

"People feel extremely vulnerable," said Ms. Buttu, who lives in Ramallah, north of Jerusalem, "even more than they usually do living under Israel's occupation."

They're also upset, she added, that people in the West pay attention to the situation here "only when Israelis are killed and not when Palestinians are killed."

The cause of Palestinian rage, she insists, is the near-half-century of Israel's occupation of the West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem.

The rage of some young people is egged on by preachers such as Mohammed Salah in city of Rafah in the Gaza Strip. Last Friday, he brandished a knife during his video-recorded sermon and called on young Palestinians in Jerusalem to attack Jews. "Stab the myths about the temple in their hearts," he said.

These disparate young people believe they are fighting to save the 1,400-year-old al-Aqsa Mosque and Dome of the Rock from being torn down to make way for a third Jewish temple.

Right-wing Israeli activists, incited by rabbis such as Shmuel Eliyahu of the northern Israeli city of Safed, gather at the site regularly. Two weeks ago, Rabbi Eliyahu declared: "It is feasible and necessary to erect an altar on the Temple Mount today."

He and his followers want Muslims off the Mount so a new Jewish temple can be erected.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week ordered all members of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to stay away from the Mount, but not the general Jewish public.

Even Rabbi Shimon Ba'adani, a religious leader of Shas, a movement of ultra-orthodox Sephardi Jews that forms part of the governing coalition, argued this week that the visits by all Jews need to stop. They are what "sparked all the current tumult," he said.

It's not the first time this holy site has sparked conflict.

In August, 1929, a dispute over control of the Western Wall, claimed by both Jews and Muslims, led to riots in Jerusalem, Hebron and Safed that left 133 Jews killed, largely by Arab rioters, and 116 Arabs killed, mainly by British security forces.

In September, 2000, a demonstration in favour of the right of Israelis to visit the Temple Mount by Ariel Sharon, then leader of the opposition, led to Palestinian riots. The violence would grow in the coming days into the bloody 2000-04 intifada, in which more than 3,000 Palestinians and about 1,000 Israelis perished.

A growing number of Israeli commentators argue for a prohibition against all Jews going on the Mount. It may be the only way to prevent a slide into real war.