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Violence dominated the Israeli headlines over the weekend after two terrorist attacks; a car ramming in the West Bank and a stabbing in Jerusalem’s old city left three dead and several others in critical condition.
Weekend Car Ramming, Stabbing Rattles Israel
Information is still coming to light regarding both attacks, but here’s what we know so far.
The first attack occurred on Friday in the northern West Bank settlement of Reihan. Four Israeli soldiers were exiting a vehicle when a Palestinian driving a civilian car rammed them killing two and injuring the other two, one of them critically.
Ha’aretz reports that an initial investigation found that the two soldiers who were killed were struck first and the other two were behind a barrier. The driver of the car was also wounded and taken into custody at the scene. The attack occurred so quickly that the soldiers did not have time to open fire on the vehicle.
On Saturday the IDF named the two soldiers who were killed as twenty-one-year-old Capt. Ziv Daos and twenty-year-old Sgt. Netanel Kahalan.
In response, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he will move to demolish the home of the attacker, and the Israeli government has already revoked work permits for his family members. A Palestinian news source reported that Israeli troops also raided his family’s home, arrested his brother, and confiscated weapons. Israeli media is reporting that the attacker did spend seven months in an Israeli prison for security violations and was released last year.
Ha’aretz also reported that a relative of the attacker said he was on his way home from buying paint, and that they believe it was an accident, not an attack. A Hamas spokesman stopped short of taking credit for the attack but praised it noting that it was on the 100-day anniversary of Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.
Information on Sunday’s stabbing is more difficult to come by because of a gag order placed on Israeli media regarding this attack for security reasons.
The Jerusalem Post reports that a security guard was severely stabbed in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem’s old city. The guard is being treated, but the assailant was shot and killed after the stabbing by a fast-acting police officer.
Conflicting reports say the attacker was either a Palestinian or a Turkish tourist. Video posted to social media show security forces running toward the scene through the market.
This incident is still under investigation.
PA Prime Minister’s Convoy Bombed in Gaza
Rami Hamdallah, the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority dodged death last week after an assassination attempt targeting his motorcade failed to kill him. The bombing struck his convoy during a visit to Gaza but didn’t manage to damage his car enough. Other cars in the convoy were totaled and windows were blown out. The Times of Israel reports that bystanders were injured, but nobody was killed. This attack comes at a particularly tense time in the Palestinian territories as Hamas and the PA have been feuding over control of the Gaza Strip, which Hamas has held politically since 2007. The two groups nearly came to armed conflict with each other last year but negotiated an agreement brokered by Egypt.
Essentially, this is what it comes down to.
- The PA accuses Hamas of violating the terms of the 2017 agreement by not allowing their party in Gaza to operate fully.
- On the other hand, Hamas says the PA has also failed to hold to the agreement by not lifting sanctions they implemented on Gaza last year.
- Thus, it is no surprise that fingers were quick to point to Hamas, accusing them of attempting to remove senior leadership of their rival group. Hamas denied the charges personally promising to launch their own investigation into the incident which they say has already led to some arrests.
No serious accusations have been levied against Israel in this incident since it is understood that Israel values the PA cooperation and, in the event of a targeted assassination from Israel, an Israeli strike would likely have been affected.
Another possibility suggests that the bombing may have been the work of more extreme, IS-linked factions in Gaza that believe both Hamas and the PA are too soft.
Israeli Court Blocks Deportations of Africans
Israel’s ongoing immigration drama around the government’s plan to either pay illegal African migrants and refugees to fly to Africa or to forcibly deport them took a new twist this week after Israel’s Supreme Court blocked the deportation plan.
Here’s a quick catch-me-up on this story.
- Around 40,000 African migrants, most of them from Sudan or Eritrea, fled to Israel from Egypt several years ago fleeing dire economic conditions and war before additional refugees could be blocked by an Egyptian border fence.
- In January, Israeli PM Netanyahu introduced the deportation plan saying the migrants were a threat to Israeli culture.
- The details: The migrants were offered $3,500 each and a plane ticket to leave Israel voluntarily by the end of March, or be forcibly deported.
- It should be noted that the plan exempts children, women, parents of dependent minors, and victims of slavery and human trafficking.
- The plan was met with a chorus of opposition from academics and religious leaders who said the Jewish state should provide a safe refuge for the illegal immigrants, given the story of Jewish history and the Torah’s mandates for the treatment of strangers.
A legal challenge led the Supreme Court to block the plan for now. The government has until March 26 to provide more information on the plan before beginning deportations at the end of the month. While this decision slows the process, it is unlikely that it will be the last word in this story.