Violence reignites across Israel-Palestine on Thursday as four Israelis and one Palestinian are killed in two separate attacks in Tel Aviv and the West Bank. The two attackers, both West Bank Palestinians, are apprehended.
Four Israelis and one Palestinian were killed in two separate attacks on both sides of the Green Line Thursday afternoon. Several others were wounded in both incidents.
In the first attack, a 36-year-old Palestinian stabbed several Israelis outside a synagogue in south Tel Aviv, killing one and injuring two, one of whom later died from his wounds. The two victims were named as Yesiev Aharon, 32, and Aviram Reuven, 51. The attacker, 36-year-old Riad Mahmoud al-Masalma from the West Bank village Dura, reportedly received an entry permit into Israel and had been working at a restaurant near the scene of the stabbings. Masalma was lightly injured while being apprehended before being taken into custody.
The assault marked the first terror attack in central Israel since four Israelis were injured in stabbing attacks in Rishon Lezion and Netanya two weeks ago.
About two hours later, a Palestinian man killed two Israelis and another Palestinian after a staggered shooting and car-ramming attack at the Alon Shvut and Gush Etzion junctions in the southern West Bank. According to initial reports, the attacker opened fire at several vehicles while driving past Alon Shvut junction, wounding several.
He then continued to Gush Etzion junction and opened fire again before driving his car into another vehicle. Two of those killed – an 18-year-old Jewish-American tourist and a 24-year-old Palestinian – were pronounced dead at the scene, with the third victim — a 51-year-old Israeli — succumbed to his wounds in hospital. The suspected attacker and an accomplice were arrested shortly after the incident.
Thursday’s attacks brought to an end a very brief period of relative quiet, at least from the Israeli perspective; the previous attack occurred last Friday when a Palestinian shot two Israelis dead near Hebron. The day before, one Palestinian was shot dead by undercover Israeli forces raiding a Hebron hospital to arrest his cousin, while another, 22-year-old Yousef Awad, was shot dead during a demonstration in the West Bank village of Budrus.
The six-day interlude interrupted what had been a continual series of attacks on both sides of the Green Line, along with near-daily clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces and widespread demonstrations throughout the West Bank and Gaza, which frequently turned deadly.
The deaths on Thursday brought the death toll since the beginning of October to 17 Israelis, at least 87 Palestinians — many of whom were shot dead after allegedly carrying out attacks — and one Eritrean asylum seeker, who was mistaken for an attacker, shot by a security guard and severely beaten by Israeli bystanders following a deadly attack on the Be’er Sheva central bus station. More than 80 Israelis and around 1,200 Palestinians have been injured.
The apparent reigniting of the violence on Thursday, and its return to central Israel, bring to bear the warnings of Israeli security officials a fortnight ago that any calm would be short-lived, and that relations with the Palestinian Authority had sustained significant damage.
In spite of the short lull in attacks against Israelis, however, unrest in the West Bank and Gaza has been ongoing throughout the last week. On Sunday, two Palestinians were shot dead in a gunfight with Israeli forces who had arrived at Qalandiya refugee camp in order to demolish the home of a camp resident suspected of killing an Israeli in June.
Elsewhere on Thursday, a Palestinian teen was shot and seriously wounded in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Abu Dis during confrontations between Palestinians and Israeli forces. Two Palestinians were also wounded during a pre-dawn raid by Israeli soldiers in Deiheishe refugee camp.
Several storms have also been brewing on the diplomatic front over the past week. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu approved the marketing of land for 454 new homes in the East Jerusalem settlements of Ramat Shlomo and Ramot. The same day, the Israeli government also outlawed the northern branch of the Islamic Movement, a move which may have far-reaching and unintended consequences.
On Wednesday, it was revealed that Israel had begun working on a series of measures designed to punish numerous European countries that supported the EU’s plans to label settlement products. Reports also emerged on Thursday suggesting that Israel is considering suing the EU over its decision.