Wave of Palestinian terror starting to resemble a religious war – Haaretz

With a model for emulation like the murderous maniacs of ISIS, and the excuse of increasing Israeli involvement in the situation at the Temple Mount – the conflict with the Palestinians in Jerusalem has been taking on a religious aspect; and the new wave of terrorism is taking on the trappings of a religious war.

The terrorists’ target on Tuesday morning, the Kehillat Bnei Torah synagogue in Har Nof, Jerusalem where four men were killed, was probably not chosen by happenstance.

Two weeks ago, there was a second terrorist attack by car – running over passersby. The terrorist had been inspired by reports (some false) of clashes between Israeli police and worshippers at Al-Aqsa Mosque.

Today’s attack on the synagogue had a similar aspect: the target was explicitly religious and the attack was based on religious conflict.

We hardly need elaborate how dangerous this motif is. When Jewish right-wing fanatics set fire to mosques in the West Bank, the Israeli political system, and many rabbis too, condemn the act practically unanimously. The Palestinian “price-tag” is infinitely more murderous yet we’re highly unlikely to hear explicit condemnation in the territories of the murders this morning.

Ten Israelis have been killed in five attacks over the last few weeks. This wave of terrorism has not expanded into mass rioting, at least not yet. But the pace of events, with a deadly attack or two every week, is keeping the conflict in center stage and has completely undermined people’s sense of personal safety in Jerusalem.

Unlike the previous attacks, today’s seems to have been more organized. Preparations were made, a target was chosen, weapons were obtained. It would be little surprise if it turns out that the two terrorists, or whomever sent them, were acquainted with Har Nof, an ultra-orthodox neighborhood in the west of Jerusalem.

Inevitably, Palestinian workers in Jewish neighborhoods will be viewed suspiciously again, and the police will tighten their supervision. After a month of attacks, Jerusalem is reverting to the sentiment of the bad old days, the bloody days, of the Second Intifada.

This morning’s murderous attack was fueled by rumors surrounding the death of an Egged bus driver in East Jerusalem on Sunday night. Even though the police, and pathological analysis, ruled that he’d committed suicide, the Palestinians were convinced from the get-go that he’d been murdered by Jews for nationalist reasons. The media in the territories fanned the fires in East Jerusalem and the West Bank even more with reports about his ostensible murder.

Predictably, the Israeli leadership reacted to the slaughter in the synagogue with two moves: convening the security cabinet, and statements placing direct responsibility for the murders on Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas, popularly known as Abu Mazen. Yuval Steinitz, Minister of Intelligence, even stated, “The terrorists’ hands held axes, but the voice was the voice of Abu Mazen.”

There seems to be little ground to develop expectations regarding the consultations today. Israel has already used up its arsenal of immediate reactions. The prime minister will probably speed up demolishing the Jerusalem homes of the terrorists who committed the previous attacks. Intelligence efforts to frustrate attacks – which is especially difficult when the terrorists aren’t organized – will continue; and the police will maintain a state of high alert in Jerusalem. But talk is cheap and with elections looming, the ministers will be competing to shoot Zionist arrows at that most terrible of enemies, Abu Mazen.

Abbas, as I have written before, erred badly when be published a letter of condolence to the family of the man who shot Yehuda Glick, and who was himself killed the following day by Israel Border Police. Also, the Palestinian Authority has been playing with fire with its statements regarding recent clashes at the Temple Mount.

But security sources in Israel concur that the Palestinian leadership is not presently encouraging terrorism, certainly not in the West Bank, though inflammatory statements do nothing to help the situation. Even though Israel’s security forces on the ground are trying to conduct themselves cautiously and with careful thought, terror attacks on top of diplomatic clashes (the PA still plans to address the UN Security Council next month) could lead to a full-blown intifada, well beyond the present wave of murderous terrorism that has hit Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Gush Etzion this month.

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