RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And one fact illustrates the character of the recent violence in Israel. It's the choice of weapons. Palestinians have often, though not always, attacked Israelis with knives.
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
A knife is a disturbingly intimate weapon used while standing within inches or even touching the victim. Many Israelis are buying weapons of their own, guns. NPR's Emily Harris reports from Jerusalem.
EMILY HARRIS, BYLINE: Israeli police published pictures of knives they say were weapons in recent attacks. They're kitchen knives - things you could buy at a supermarket but no longer so easily in one of Israel's major grocery chains, Rami Levy. Here, all the knives, plus kitchen scissors and pizza cutters, have been pulled from the aisles and stored at the service desk. Customers now have to ask for them. Drori Levy, who works in the family business, says the reason is simple.
DRORI LEVY: (Through interpreter) We have a security guard at the door to prevent someone from getting in and attacking someone. So why would we keep what the attacker would use here on the shelf?
HARRIS: The customer service desk has no set criteria for who could or could not buy a knife. Shopper Naomi Golan says taking knives off shelves might not make a real difference, but it's a nice gesture.
NAOMI GOLAN: I don't think that people take knife from here. I think they come in with the knife with them. But people fear. So when they don't see knives, it's OK.
HARRIS: Other Israelis say there's only one answer to knife attacks - guns.
RONEN RABANI: A handgun will stop a person with a knife.
HARRIS: Ronen Rabani runs a gun shop in Jerusalem. Business has been booming not just recently, he says, but since Palestinians from East Jerusalem killed five Israelis in an attack on a synagogue about this time last year. Customer Hadi Kolani lives in an Israeli settlement in the West Bank. He's here to pick up his first handgun.
HADI KOLANI: (Through interpreter) I feel more secure. I have a means for self defense. It makes me more relaxed.
HARRIS: To get a gun in Israel takes a few months and a lot of paperwork. There are age requirements, and a doctor must certify the buyer's mental health. Everyone goes through training. This shop has classes and a practice range.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: (Foreign language spoken).
HARRIS: Still, Palestinian officials say Israeli police and civilians have been too quick to shoot and kill Arabs. But Jews carrying out recent knife attacks have been arrested instead. In any case, knives are illegal to carry in Israel. And you can't get a permit - with one exception, cooking school. Every student at Israel's Institute of Culinary Arts gets a kit of equipment, says spokesperson Ido Zarmi.
IDO ZARMI: The kit has at least seven different kinds of knives. It's a chef knife. It's a boning knife. It's a paring knife. It's a serrated knife and a flexible fillet knife.
HARRIS: And with this kit, they get a letter certifying this person is carrying these knives for a good reason. The letters have always been necessary because bags get searched often in Israel. But now it's taken on a new tone, Zarmi says.
ZARMI: We have students that are Arab. And we issue this letter for them as well. You know, for me and for us in the school, there is no difference between one person and another. But people actually ask me, right now, how do you know you can give a letter like that to people that are Arab?
HARRIS: The only Arab student in one of the school's recent classes posted a picture of his knives and his letter on Facebook. Yes, he wrote, I'm certified to carry knives. Let's just hope they won't shoot first, ask questions later. Emily Harris, NPR News, Jerusalem.