Security forces may bar young and unmarried Palestinian men from working in Israel in a step to curb a surge in knife attacks on Jews, officials said Friday.

The measure would be the first blanket ban of a whole category of Arabs since the capture of the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Arab armies in the 1967 Middle East war.Palestinian bachelors have been singled out because police say most attacks were carried out by Arabs in their late teens or mid-20s who had not yet married.

The move could further reduce the Palestinian work force from the occupied territories. Before the Persian Gulf war, about 110,000 Palestinians worked in Israel; now, just 40,000 have been given army-issued work passes.

Israeli radios reported that the idea of banning bachelors came up at a closed-door meeting of police commanders Thursday night.