Israelis, Palestinians bury dead after surge in violence

2015-11-20 18:02


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Jerusalem - Israelis and Palestinians buried their dead on Friday after one of the deadliest days in nearly eight weeks of lone wolf violence that is challenging Israeli security thinking.

Three Israelis, an American and a Palestinian were killed on Thursday in two attacks by Palestinians in Tel Aviv and the occupied West Bank. Both assailants were arrested.

The killings came after a few days of apparent calm, shattering hopes the wave of violence was subsiding.

Violence since the start of October has killed at least 86 people on the Palestinian side, including one Arab Israeli, 15 Israelis, an American and an Ethiopian.

Israeli security officials quietly admit they are preparing for months of attacks while analysts said new checks will be needed to prevent further bloodshed.

In Kfar Etzion south of Jerusalem, more than 1 000 mostly Orthodox Jews attended the funeral of Yaakov Don.

He was killed on Thursday afternoon when an assailant opened fire from a car near a Jewish settlement block south of Jerusalem before crashing into pedestrians.

In Hebron, around 2 000 Palestinian crowded outside the Al-Hussein Ibn Ali mosque to mourn Shadi Arafa, who was killed in the same attack.

His brother Baha said he was hit by Israeli fire although an investigation is under way to determine the exact circumstances of his death.

Clashes between Palestinian youths and Israeli security forces erupted after the funeral.

The body of the third victim, American Ezra Schwartz, is being flown back to the United States for burial.

Two Israelis killed in the Tel Aviv attack when a Palestinian stormed into an office building with a knife were buried in separate funerals also on Friday.

New pressures

The Tel Aviv stabbing was the first attack to take place in Israel's commercial capital since the wave of unrest erupted in October.

Analysts said it was a concerning new trend as the perpetrator had a permit to work in Israel, was married with five children and had no previous criminal record.

Tens of thousands of Palestinians with work permits travel into Israel daily and are traditionally perceived as a low threat.

Writing in the Israel Hayom newspaper, Yoav Limor suggested the attack may lead to tighter restrictions.

"If there are more terror attacks committed by people with permits, this will necessitate, at the very least, more stringent checks," said Limor.

Benedetta Berti, senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies, said the latest attacks suggested that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's strategy for containing the violence was failing.

"There has been a perception that the stabbings were going to wind down and eventually go away and this could be managed through additional deployment of troops or more checkpoints, but it has just been proven untrue," Berti told AFP.

The assailants have largely been acting alone rather than in coordination with militant parties, making it nearly impossible to predict where and when attacks will occur.

A senior military source told AFP the security services had no previous records of over 90% of the attackers.

Yoram Schweitzer, a former head of the Israeli army's counter-terrorism department, said it was likely such attacks would continue.

"If somebody is doing an operation on a whim, with no prior planning, most probably we won't have any intelligence about it. So we have to try to defuse these operations on the ground."

Berti said that for now the level of attacks was manageable, but there was pressure on the Fatah faction of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas and the Islamist Hamas movement to back the uprising.

"If you start to see more organised backing then the genie is out of the bottle," she said.

Read more on:    palestine  |  israel

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