Temple Mount Terror Attack Makes It Harder In The Middle East — Expect Escalation

ANALYSIS: TERROR ATTACK ON TEMPLE MOUNT CAN LEAD TO DANGEROUS ESCALATION

BYANNA AHRONHEIM
 JULY 14, 2017 12:04

 

Since October 2015 Palestinian youth have stabbed, run over and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, including some tourists, in a wave of violence in the West Bank and Israel.

Secuirty at Damascus Gate, July 2017

Security at the Damascus Gate, July 2017. (photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

For the second time in under a month, assailants have carried out deadly terror attacks in Jerusalem’s Old City, but in a dangerous escalation, Friday’s attack ended with the Israeli-Arab attackers being shot and killed by authorities in the Temple Mount Complex.

While there have been multiple shootings and stabbings in the Old City of Jerusalem in the past two years, attacks on or near the Temple Mount itself are rare and the deaths of the attackers in one of the Islam’s holiest spots could lead to clashes.

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Two Israeli policemen, identified as Hayil Stawi and Kamil Shnan were killed in the attack carried out by 29-year-old Muhammad Ahmad Muhammad Jabarin, and 19 year olds Muhammad Hamed ‘Abd al-Latif Jabarin and Muhammad Ahmad Fadel Jabarin, Israeli-Arab residents of the northern Arab town of Umm el-Fahm.

While residents of Umm el-Fahm have carried out attacks in the past, Friday’s attack marks the first time in recent years that residents of Umm el-Fahm have carried out an attack of this magnitude.

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According to the police, the attackers came from the Temple Mount and opened fire at Israeli officers near the Lions’ Gate exit.  They then fled towards the Temple Mount complex and were killed by police inside the complex.

Their choice of weaponry, a knife and Carlo-Gustav.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a security briefing with Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Eisenkot, Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman, Israel Police Commissioner Roni Alsheich, the Defense Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai.

Erdan called the attack “an extremely serious event which crossed all red lines,” and said that there was a need to “reevaluate all of the security arrangements on the Temple Mount and its environs.”

Last month, a border police officer, 23-year-old Hadas Malka, was stabbed to death in a coordinated attack by three Palestinians near the Damascus Gate, a frequent location of terror attacks.

According to officials, Malka was attacked by two Palestinians, one with a knife and the second with a Carlo-Gustav submachine gun, which jammed without firing.  A third attacker, in a second location, wounded two other Israelis being before shot and killed.

Following that attack, Netanyahu said he was considering turning the Damascus Gate area into a “sterile area,” but it has not been made clear what exactly that meant. Damascus Gate, security personnel have a constant and extensive presence at the main entrance into the Muslim Quarter.

Since October 201,5 Palestinian youth have stabbed, run over and shot Israeli soldiers and civilians, including some tourists, in a wave of violence in the West Bank and Israel. Some 280 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, a majority of them attackers, according to authorities.

While the violence has since decreased since its peak in the winter of 2016 when there were almost daily attacks, two coordinated shooting attacks in Jerusalem within the span of a month has some questioning what can be done.

With an increase of shooting attacks Israeli security forces, including the Shin Bet intelligence agency, Israeli Defense Forces and police, have increased their efforts to uncover unofficial workshops producing illegal weapons, carrying out near-nightly raids in the West Bank, shutting down weapons factories and confiscating arms.

The IDF has seized approximately 150 firearms and raided 20 workshops since the beginning of 2017 and last year over 50 gun-making workshops were shut down and over  500 illegal weapons seized in 2016, a significant increase from the 170 weapons seized in 2015.

Due to this, the price of the most popular weapon of choice, the Karl Gustav, has tripled in the past year, from 1,500 NIS in January 2015 to 4,500 NIS in December 2016.

But military operations are only one part in stopping future attacks, especially when those who carry them out are from inside Israel. Like many communities across the Arab sector Umm el-Fahm has suffered a disproportionately high rate of violent crime for years. Authorities must intervene on a social level, working with community leaders and family members of those they consider at risk of carrying out an attack to help dissuade them.

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