10/13/15 From bad to Worse

by Marc Schulman

It has been another terrible day in Israel – with two attacks in Jerusalem, and another two attacks in Ra’anana (a suburb of Tel Aviv). Today’s violence claimed the lives of three Israeli and wounded another 30. The two Ra’anana assaults were similar to earlier attacks with individual stabbings of people. However, in Ra’anana in both cases local residents quickly overpowered the attackers. Jerusalem was a different matter. Both Jerusalem attacks took place within a few minutes of each other.

The first attack took place in the Jerusalem’s Armon Hanatziv, a Jewish neighborhood built after 1967. Two terrorists, one of whom was an identified Hamas member, from the nearby Arab neighborhood of Jabel Mukaber, entered a bus and began stabbing and shooting passengers.
There were indications the pair had later tried to hijack the bus, but were stopped by an alert driver passing. Security personnel arrived quickly, though not before two people were dead (or dying) and 18 more wounded. The security personnel ended the attack.

Meanwhile, a few miles away – not far from the entrance to the city and the site of another attack last night) a company car of the Israeli telephone company, Bezek, was used by an Arab resident of East Jerusalem to plow into a bus stop, killing one person and wounding two others. When the terrorist got out of the car and tried to attack other people with a cleaver, security personal arrived and killed him.

The Israeli government is faced with the dilemma of figuring out what to do to try to end this wave of terror as soon as possible. Eighty percent of the perpetrators in the current wave of terror came from East Jerusalem. Today, Jerusalem’s Mayor Nir Barkat publicly called for a curfew to be imposed on the Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem. Imposing a curfew would be technically difficult. Tonight, the government of of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected the idea. To impose a curfew solely on the Arab part of the city would be tantamount to publicly acknowledging that the city of Jerusalem is indeed divided. For a man who has run repeatedly claiming that the tragic division of the holy city would happen if his opponents were elected, it’s a step Netanyahu cannot take.

Until today these recent attacks were executed almost exclusively by young people with knives. Today, however, the use of a gun and a car took the violence to a new level. Furthermore, one of the attackers in Ra’anana, as well as one of the attackers in Jerusalem had been working for Israeli companies for a number of years. These attacks have increased the level of anxiety in all of Israel to the highest levels since the time of the bus bombings, 15 years ago. Though to many observers these attacks are worse, since during the last waves of attacks the profile of potential perpetrators was clear… today, attacks may be carried out by almost anyone.

The various attacks were not the only security event in Israel today. Throughout the West Bank there were continuous confrontations between demonstrators and the army. Along the border with Gaza there were also confrontations with Gaza residents who tried to storm the border fence. This evening there was an attempt to shoot personnel traveling in an army vehicle near the border. If that was not enough, this morning errant mortar shells fell on the Golan Heights. The I.D.F. responded with fire on positions of the Assad army.

Tonight Israel is a very tense country. There is a clear sense that this terror wave will not end soon. The parks this afternoon in Tel Aviv and throughout the country were missing their usual throngs of children, as Israelis decide when they can to stay home. During the last Intifadah one of my daughters was living alone here, and I was constantly worried, from afar. Today, I have two other children living with us (one age 15 and one age 22). For the first time since I have lived here, I worry about their safety.