Palestinian terrorism targeting Israelis entered its third month this week with a series of attacks that took the lives of five people on Thursday. The death toll marked the bloodiest day since unrest began on September 14th.
The first attack occurred midday at a makeshift prayer room near Ben Zvi street in Tel Aviv, killing two Israelis. One of the victims, Aharon Yesiab, was a rabbi from the area, while the identity of the other victim, 20, has not been released. According to The Times of Israel, police suspect a 36-year-old Palestinian man stabbed the worshipers as their service began. Authorities have not released the name of the man who held a permit to work at a nearby restaurant, but the IDF subsequently raided his Hebron home.
Hours later a Palestinian man shot and killed three people, including a young American student, close to the West Bank settlement of Alon Shvut in Etzion. The 24-year-old man, later identified as Mohammed Abdel Basset al-Kharoub, then rammed his car into another vehicle nearby before security personnel arrested him.
Israeli authorities stand guard at the scene of a Palestinian terror attack on Thursday in the West Bank. (Photo: Tomer Applebaum)
Thursday’s violence, and the shooting of a father and son last Friday, has raised the Israeli death toll from Palestinian terror to 17 since October 1st, according to officials. Many of the attacks either took place around Hebron or had perpetrators originating from the West Bank city, thus becoming a flashpoint for rioting and other forms of unrest. Haaretz reported that 40% of the 500 arrests that Israeli forces made in the West Bank in the last two months have come from the area. The close proximity of IDF troops protecting settlements to Arabs has promoted greater friction between Israeli and Palestinian populations, but also provided easy opportunities for attackers to target Jews.
Another analyst quoted in the New York Times points to Hebron’s more conservative culture, saying the city poses a threat to the region’s stability more than any other place in the West Bank. Hamas has already made deep inroads politically into the area too, through their social media apparatus and organization of terror cells. Besides facilitating attacks against Jews from the city, the group has also challenged President Abbas’s Palestinian Authority for influence over day-to-day security.