The double murders on Monday of soldier Almog Shiloni in Tel Aviv and Dalia Lemkus outside Alon Shvut in the West Bank, perpetrated amid a constant drumbeat of low-level violence in Jerusalem and rising tension on the Temple Mount, raise questions not just about the Israel Police’s ability to contain the spread and volume of the violence. They also raise questions about the tactics and true desires of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who has played at least a partial role in igniting the unrest in Jerusalem.
Israel Police chief Yohanan Danino, speaking at a conference on homeland security on Monday, called the stabbing attack in Tel Aviv “part of a continuum of incidents,” which are difficult to stop because “it is hard to know what the lone attacker will do, where he will come from, [making it] hard to provide a response.”
The Israel Police, a force of 29,000 officers total, has moved sizable re-enforcements to Jerusalem in an attempt to quell the violence and make sure it does not mushroom into a full-blown armed resistance stemming from the Temple Mount.
The attacks and the unrest, however, have spread like a wavering fire, in bursts, from Jerusalem, to the Israeli Arab sector, to Tel Aviv
To be sure, the primary fuel for the fire has been Islamist sentiment and incitement.
Hamas has been calling for, and actively trying to instigate, an intifada for many months.
Additionally, the pulsating power of the Islamic State’s barbarism is being felt across the Middle East, veteran defense analyst Ron Ben-Yishai noted on the Ynet website, where he asserted that there is “a direct link” between the stabbing in Tel Aviv and the beheading videos on YouTube
But Abbas, too, has played a role. And his Fatah faction has also done so, including by posting cartoons and other inciteful material encouraging attacks on Israeli targets.
Since he was unable to release large swaths of prisoners through the diplomatic channels, as Hamas had done through violent actions, he opted for the other issue around which all Palestinians can unite: Jerusalem.
IDF soldiers opened fire on two separate riots in the southern West Bank Tuesday, killing at least one and injuring two others.
Imad Jawabreh, 22, was taken to the hospital in critical condition but died from bullet wounds to his chest, medics said following the incident which took place as Israeli forces clashed with rioters on a main road near the southern city of Hebron.
Another protester was also injured in the clashes, according to the Palestinian Ma’an News Agency
The clashes came as 200 protesters rioted in the al-Arrub refugee camp, the army said, adding that the soldiers fired and hit a man who had thrown an improvised explosive at them.
The stabbings came as a third straight day of violent protests rocked a number of Arab towns in the wake of the police shooting and killing a man in Kafr Kanna on Saturday.
Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu has come up with a clear message to Israeli Arabs who have been angered by a recent police shooting of an Arab man – move out of Israel if you denounce the Jewish State.
Protests exploded in a number of Arab communities in Israel after police shot dead a man who attacked their vehicle on Saturday. He allegedly was shot as he was already walking away from the car.
Addressing the legislators from his right-wing Likud party, Netanyahu said: "To all those who are demonstrating and shouting their denunciation of Israel and support of a Palestinian state, I can say one simple thing: you are invited to move there - to the Palestinian Authority or to Gaza."
"I can promise you the State of Israel will not put any obstacles in your way," the Israeli leader added.
Ahmed Tibi, a prominent Arab-Israeli lawmaker and the leader of the Ta’al Arab party, said that Netanyahu’s comments showed the prime minister had “gone off the rails.”
Tibi accused Netanyahu of pandering to the far right of his Likud Party. Likud is holding a leadership vote in January amid speculation that a snap election will held within months.
Netanyahu put the blame for the violence on the Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other radical Islamic movements.
“We are not prepared to tolerate more demonstrations in the heart of our cities in which Hamas or ISIS flags are waved and calls are made to redeem Palestine with blood and fire, calling in effect for the destruction of the State of Israel,” he said.
Netanyahu’s rhetoric was peppered with religious and historical references to the Jews.
“Standing behind this incitement is the Palestinian Authority and its leader, Abu Mazen. The website of their official body, Fatah, explains that the Jewish people were, in effect, never here, that the Temple was never here, that David, Solomon, Isaiah, Jeremiah and the kings and prophets of Israel – are all fiction,” Netanyahu said.
Tibi noted that these kinds of words have not been publically uttered by an Israeli Prime Minister in the past.
The EU is “extremely worried by the current situation that – in the absence of political perspective – can further deteriorate. We urge political leaders to act responsibly and to work for a quick de-escalation of tensions,” it said.