10/7/15 wave of attacks and Violent Demonstrations unabated

by Marc Schulman

The caldron of violence that has been rampant throughout the Middle East, which had spread to the West Bank and Jerusalem, reached Tel Aviv last night and a town in the Northern Negev early this afternoon and now this evening the Tel Aviv suburb of Petah Tikva. On Thursday night an Israeli couple was slain in the West Bank, while in their car, with their children looking on. From that moment, violence has begun to spiral out of control. This heinous shooting followed days of stone attacks and other mounting violence along the divide between Arab and Jewish Jerusalem.

On Saturday night two Israelis were stabbed to death in the Old City of Jerusalem, while Israeli forces in the West Bank confronted demonstrators – some violent, some not – killing at least two demonstrators. Those clashes have been ongoing. As is their nature, Israelis do their best to take the violence in stride. I visited the Jewish part of Jerusalem yesterday and outwardly everything looked very normal and unchanged.

Last night Arab-Israeli residents of Jaffa (part of Tel Aviv) heeded the call by the Islamic Front of Northern Israel to demonstrate on behalf of the Al-Aqsa mosque. That demonstration turned violent. Six demonstrators were arrested and six policeman were injured. When interviewed, one of the demonstrators claimed they he was indeed worried about the status quo at Al-Aqsa. In addition, he said the demonstrators were angry that the perpetrators of Thursday night shooting, a Hamas cell had already been apprehended, while those who burned down the Dawabsheh family home, killing the mother, father, and 18 month old infant, remain at-large.

The radio interviewer then asked – considering the state of Arabs everywhere else in the area, what do the Arabs in Jaffa have to demonstrate about? The mere question struck a nerve. The interviewee was deeply offended, reflecting the complicated identity of Israeli Arabs. Some of the time he considers himself an Arab-Israeli, (who compares his situation to that of other Israelis, and not other Arabs,) however during the course of this radio conversation that same interviewee expressed his identification with the Palestinians.

Early this afternoon there was another stabbing attack in the Old City of Jerusalem. Those attacked only sustained minor injuries, while the attacker was seriously wounded by one of the victims who had a gun. An hour later, in Kiriyat Gat (a town in the Northern Negev), home of one of Intel’s most advanced fabrication facilities, a soldier was stabbed by a Palestinian, who then took the soldier’s gun (after which, the attacker was shot and killed by police.)

Tonight, right outside the mall in Petah Tikva (a suburb of Tel Aviv), a Palestinian took out a knife and stabbed someone entering the mall. The man who was attacked is in critical condition; the attacker was overpowered by passers-by and arrested. The Petah Tikva mall, located on a major street – a 10-minute drive from our house – has brought the terror ever closer.

For many months there has been concern, given the level of violence engulfing our neighborhood, that it was only a matter of time before the violence reached us. Use by the Palestinian Authority of the symbol of the Al-Aqsa mosque to stir up passion regarding the Palestinians, was no doubt a calculated move by a leader who saw the world ignoring his cause. In the last day President Mahmoud Abbas seems to have reached the realization that he is unable to control the tiger he released. As such, Abbas has called for restraint and allowed Israeli and Palestinian security forces to meet to coordinate their efforts to control the situation.

The fear among many of the residents of Tel Aviv that I spoke with in the last day, is that Abbas’s best efforts might be too little, too late. Most of them laugh in disdain at the sight of members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu' s party and government demonstrating in front of his house demanding Netanyahu be tougher on those perpetrating violence. However, the average Tek Avian does not have any alternative suggestions or plans of action.
The general sense here is that we are in for a period of very rough waters. Whether this period will become known as “the third intifada” we will only know as events unfold over the next few days and weeks.