Genocidal threshold looms closer in Jerusalem

Two Palestinians armed with a pistol and axes attacked a synagogue in Jerusalem's Har Nof district during morning prayers on Nov. 18, killing four Israelis. A police officer later died of his wounds. The two assailants were shot dead. (JP, Nov. 19; Ma'an, Nov. 18) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, but in the same statements reiterated its "demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers." Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and the Popular Resistance Committees all praised the attack. (Ma'an, Nov. 18)

Israeli forces have detained 12 relatives of two attackers. At least 17 Palestinians suffered tear gas inhalation and five were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes following the arrests. Israeli forces used cement blocks to seal the entrance to Jabal al-Mukabbir, the East Jerusalem neighborhood where the attackers lived. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the demolition of the homes of the two men. (Ma'anJP, Nov. 18) Netanyahu said Israel will "respond harshly" to the "cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers." Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke out, demanding Palestinian leaders halt "incitement." (Daily News, Nov. 18)

Note that the "respond harshly" comment is an obvious threat of collective punishment—which is routinely inflicted on the Palestinians, but never in Israeli attacks. There has been no move to demolish the homes of the Israelis arrested in the the abduction and killing of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khudair, who was burned alive in an early July attack. As for Kerry, he might (in a purely theoretical sense) consider also scolding the Isreali leadership for "incitement," given the West Bank land confiscations and village demolitions that have taken place since the end of the latest Gaza conflict, and incendiary comments from a cabinet member about destroying al-Aqsa mosque.

Also driving unrest is the death of a Palestinian bus driver, who was found hanged at Har Hotzvim terminal northwest of Jerusalem Nov. 16. Yousuf Hasan al-Ramouni, from al-Tur in East Jerusalem was a driver with Israeli company Egged. When Israeli police said he committed suicide, this sparked further street protests. (Ma'an, Nov. 18; Ma'an, Nov. 17)

Attacks are mounting. Israeli settler shot and seriously injured a Palestinian youth Nov. 18 after a settler demonstration on the outskirts of Beitin village east of Ramallah. Earlier, a Palestinian man was stabbed by a group of Israelis as he was walking in Kafr Aqab, north of Jerusalem. He was hospitalized, and is in a serious condition. (Ma'an, Ma'an, Nov. 18)

Clashes broke out near Nablus on Nov. 18 after settlers attacked a Palestinian school in the West Bank village of Urif. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades at villagers after they clashed with settlers trying to attack a local school. After news broke of that day's synagogue attack, dozens of settlers gathered along the main road between Nablus and Yizhar settlement, setting off the fighting. (Ma'an, Nov. 19)

  1. Israel: new home demolition policy

    Under the new Israeli policy of demolishing the homes of attackers, security forces razed the East Jerusalem apartment of the family of Abdelrahman Shaludi, who deliberately rammed his car into a crowd of pedestrians on Oct. 22, killing a young woman and a baby. Four families who lived in the building had to evacuate, as the entire Silwan neighborhood was closed off by Israeli police troops. Sitting amid the rubble her home in the aftermath, Shaludi's grandmother told Al Jazeera: "No one should feel sorry for us, for our demolished home." She said she was proud of Shaludi's actions.

  2. New escalation in Jerusalem

    Tens of thousands of Palestinians performed prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday Dec. 19, later marching through the streets of the Old City in protest against Israeli policies banning Muslim worshipers. The director of al-Aqsa told Ma'an News Agency that the number of worshipers at the mosque reached 60,000 including thousands of worshipers who had traveled to attend from the West Bank. The week was one of the first in months in which Israeli restrictions on Palestinian access to the mosque were almost entirely lifted, allowing tens of thousands to flock to the holy compound. (Ma'an)

    That same afternoon, an Israeli special forces unit reportedly detained four Palestinians and injured three during clashes in the Wadi al-Joz neighborhood of East Jerusalem. Witnesses told Ma'an that clashes broke out in the area, where Palestinians threw Molotov cocktails, fireworks, and stones at Israeli forces who were deployed in the area. (Ma'an, Dec. 19 )

    One day earlier, dozens of Israeli rightists entered the al-Aqsa compound for the second day of Hanukkah. Director of the mosque, Sheikh Omar al-Kiswani, said that 140 right-wing Israelis entered the compound under armed guard and toured the area. Verbal confrintations broke out between the Israeli group and Palestinian worshipers after a member of the group shoved a female photographer at the Chain Gate. (Ma'an, Dec. 18)

  3. Israel high court rejects petition against home demolitions

    Israel's Supreme Court on Dec. 31 rejected a petition filed by eight human rights groups and four Israeli families against a policy of demolishing terrorists' homes. The four families' homes in East Jerusalem all have impending demolition orders. The attorney for the organizations argued the policy, Section 119 of the emergency defense regulations, has not been under reviewed for several years, and that there have been many developments in international law since it was instated in the 1980s. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, who wrote the court's opinion, rejected the petition because the court has previously ruled on the issue. He further said that the practice is used infrequently and is necessary because of the cruel actions of those accused. A fifth family joined in the petition, and Justice Rubinstein ordered the state to provide data on the justification of demolishing the home. The court did not reject the appeal of the family of Muataz Hijazi because, although he attempted to kill a Jewish activist, there was no loss of life.

    From Jurist, Jan. 1. Used with permission.