Over the weekend and into today, Israel has been hit with a terror spree. As of this afternoon, no less than eight assaults have been carried out against Israeli soldiers, citizens and police officers. All of them occurred in just four days. After months of relative calm in the wake of a sustained wave of "lone wolf" attacks that began one year ago, Israelis wonder: Has it started up again? Did it ever really stop? And, why now?
The litany of attacks began on Friday, four of them before Shabbat began, is sobering.
✡ On Friday afternoon at the Damascus Gate to Jerusalem's Old City, a Jordanian came out of its portal. Minutes earlier, he had departed the Temple Mount where he took part in Islamic weekly prayers. Gripping a knife in each hand, both of his arms were raised. Shouting "Alahu Akbar" (Allah is greater), he broke through a barrier and moved to assault two soldiers standing duty there. Scrambling, the soldiers raised their weapons and killed the assailant.
✡ South of Jerusalem, at a Jewish community site in Hebron, a pickup truck attempted to run down several Israelis waiting at a bus stop. Israeli troops fired on the car, killing both occupants, a man and a woman. Three teenage passengers were lightly wounded. Bullets stopped their would-be murderers while steel reinforced cement posts at the stop halted their car. In response to ramming attacks, the posts were installed at bus stops throughout Israel earlier this year
✡ Then, back near Jerusalem, only minutes East of the city, a public bus was hit with stones. In spite of reinforced windows, its windshield shattered, injuring the driver. The stone throwers remain at large.
✡ Back in Hebron on Friday, an IDF soldier on duty at a checkpoint there was assaulted by a would-be murderer wielding a knife. Shot and killed, the terrorist lightly wounded his intended victim.
✡ On Saturday morning, again in Hebron, a terrorist approached the Jewish community of Tel Rumeida. Pulling out papers, he approached an IDF officer. Handing them over, he reached into his pocked and pulled out a knife. Raising the knife, he lunched g at the soldier, attempting to stab him. Other soldiers intervened, shooting the terrorist and killing him.
✡ At 3am on Sunday, a Palestinian terrorist was spotted attempting to infiltrate the Israeli community of Efrat, a few miles south of Bethlehem and in-between Jerusalem and Hebron. Canvassing the area, an IDF officer was ambushed. Another soldier stopped the assailant with gunfire. Several hours later the terrorist succumbed to his wounds.
✡ This morning just outside Herod's Gate to Jerusalem's Old City, two officers were wounded by another stabbing attack. One of the officers, a twenty year old woman was stabbed in the neck, sustaining serious wounds. Her partner, a 45 year old man, was moderately injured. The assailant was shot and, according to reports, critically wounded.
✡ Then again, this afternoon and back in Hebron, there was another stabbing attack. Two terrorists carrying knives near the Tomb of the Patriarchs (where Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Leah are buried) assaulted Israeli officers on duty. As of this writing, the official report is that both attackers were shot. One died from his wounds while the other remains in critical condition.
The immediate outcry from the Palestinian Authority and Hamas has been to characterize terrorists' deaths as "extra-judicial killings." Neither Palestinian government has condemned the terror attacks.
Two questions reverberate today in Israel. Is this a renewed wave of terror? And why are they happening now?
After eight attacks in just four days, Israelis are bracing for another onslaught like the one that began one year ago. Security has been reinforced at key locations in Jerusalem's Old City, in Hebron and throughout Judea and Samaria, an entire area to which Palestinians make an exclusive claim. Travelers in and out of Palestinian controlled territories, including Bethlehem, are subject to more thorough scrutiny by Israel's Border Police.
One argument is that the wave of terror that began last year never stopped. It was temporarily stunted by good Israeli police work that kept a lid on the bubbling brew of would-be murderers. According to this line of thought, the boiling pot of perpetrators is overflowing beyond the ability of Israel to contain them all.
In this vein, one YNet News report used a different metaphor to describe the ongoing threat. Calling recent attacks, "the tip of the iceberg," they are not the main threat, it says. The main threat, argues journalist Alex Fishman, is ISIS inspired terror cells in Samaria and the Jerusalem area. As for the current outbreak of terror, he claims it is a continuation of what began in September one year ago.
Others speculate that the attacks are related to the recent Islamic holy days of Eid, the upcoming month of high holy days in Israel: Rosh Hashanah (Hebrew new year), Yom Kippur (day of repentance) and Sukkot, also known as the Feast of Tabernacles, or Booths.
Then too there is the video published by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu last week. In it, he claimed that the goal of Palestinian leadership was nothing less than a state ethnically cleansed of all Jews. Ignoring evidence that supports his claim, world leaders have clamored to condemn Netanyahu's assertion. With the latest session of the United Nations beginning this week, Palestinian provocateurs may be trying to capitalize upon and inflame the world's disapproval of Netanyahu's public condemnation.