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Arab Israel Conflict
Jerusalem violence ‘not an intifada’
From the Financial Times of Wed, 19 Nov 2014 16:46:38 GMT
Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Shlomo Amar (L) delivers a speech during a visit by chief clerics and representatives of different religious communities to the synagogue where two Palestinians killed five Israelis in Jerusalem the previous day, on November 19, 2014. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised a harsh response and it appeared that a crackdown was under way in east Jerusalem the day after the attack with Israeli forces demolishing the home of a resident blamed for a previous attack. AFP PHOTO / THOMAS COEXTHOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images©AFP

A day after four rabbis were killed in an attack on a West Jerusalem synagogue, an Israeli cabinet member warned that restoring calm in the city “could take months”, but denied recent unrest amounted to a new intifada, or uprising, against Israeli rule.

Jerusalem was tense following Tuesday’s attack, in which two Palestinian men from a poor neighbourhood in East Jerusalem set upon ultra-Orthodox Jewish worshippers with knives, axes and a gun in a synagogue in the west of the city, killing four in the worst violence in more than four months of unrest. The two attackers were shot dead by police and an Israeli Druze police officer died of his wounds later on Tuesday.

“We are not in an intifada [but] it could be that it will come to that,” Yitzhak Aharonovich told Israel’s Ynet news service on Wednesday. “I was in the first and second intifada and this is a daily popular uprising; we are not there yet.”

Some Israeli commentators and politicians are describing the spate of attacks by Palestinians in the city as a third intifada, comparable to the two Palestinian revolts against Israeli occupation in the late 1980s and a decade ago.

“From one isolated incident to another isolated incident, we have an intifada that threatens to be no less fatal than its two predecessors,” Nahum Barnea, a prominent columnist, wrote on Tuesday in Israel’s Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

Israeli police stepped up patrols in eastern Palestinian neighbourhoods and public places throughout the city – including its Jewish west – and helicopters buzzed overhead.

The US consulate in Jerusalem on Tuesday warned citizens of a “dynamic security situation” in the city. It said the synagogue attack differed from previous ones in that it displayed “low-level co-ordination to attack a pre-identified soft target”, as opposed to a random act of violence.

In other recent incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank, four people have been killed by cars that ploughed into stops along the city’s light rail line or have been stabbed, and about a dozen Palestinians – including the attackers – have been killed by Israeli security forces.

Israeli police say lone Palestinians from East Jerusalem with blue IDs permitting them to live and move freely in the city, or with Israeli citizenship, carried out the impromptu attacks.

Palestinians say provocative acts by rightwing Israelis, including extremist lawmakers in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition, pushing for Jews to have the right to pray at the site of al-Aqsa mosque, have prompted the attacks. Social deprivation and poor economic prospects among residents in the east have also played a role.

“This happened because of the incitement by Netanyahu and his government on a daily basis about East Jerusalem and al-Aqsa mosque,” Abu Salah, the uncle of one of the synagogue attackers, Udayy Abu Zhamal, said on Tuesday after the incident.

Mr Netanyahu and other members of his government have accused Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other officials, as well as Arab-language media, of inciting the attackers.

However, critics of the Israeli leader say his accusation has been undermined by the fact that Israel exercises full security control in occupied East Jerusalem unlike in the earlier uprisings in the occupied West Bank.

Yoram Cohen, head of Israel’s Shin Bet security service, was quoted on Tuesday by Ynet as having told a Knesset committee: “Abbas is not interested in terror. Not even under the table, even though some of the public interprets his statements that way.”



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