Tensions threatening eruption in Israel to larger confrontation

Picture source - AP
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Hours after two Israeli sisters were killed in an incident in the occupied West Bank, an Italian tourist was killed and five others were injured in a vehicle ramming in Tel Aviv on Friday.

Israeli police raids on Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque earlier this week added to a climate of increased Israeli-Palestinian tensions. Attacks followed a night of cross-border bombings in Gaza and Lebanon.

As Israel reacted to a barrage of missiles by bombing locations connected to the Islamist party Hamas in Gaza and southern Lebanon, tensions threatened to erupt into a larger confrontation overnight. However, the violence subsided on Friday.

However, two attacks highlighted how unstable the situation is still following many nights of unrest that have sparked worry and appeals for calm throughout the globe.

In the most recent incident, a vehicle rammed into a crowd on a roadway close to a well-traveled bike and pedestrian route on a Tel Aviv promenade. When the motorist attempted to grab a pistol, a nearby police officer shot him dead, according to the authorities.

The attacker was a Kafr Qassem-born Arab citizen of Israel, an Israeli security source has been quoted by media report.

Immediately following the event, Reuters captured a white automobile lying on its side on park grass. The area, which was teeming with emergency personnel, was blocked off by police.

Earlier on Friday, a gun attack on their automobile happened close to the Jewish hamlet of Hamra in the Jordan Valley, killing two Israeli sisters, ages 20 and 16, who also shared British citizenship, and injuring their mother.

After visiting the assault scene with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared, “Our enemies are testing us once more.”

Netanyahu commanded the mobilization of border police reserves and extra military personnel to fend against the onslaught of assaults while troops searched for the shooter.

Although no one claimed credit for any of the assaults on Friday, Hamas, which governs the blockaded Gaza Strip, applauded them and connected them to the unrest around Al-Aqsa shrine.

Apart from minor stone-throwing, authorities said that Friday prayers went off without a big disturbance.

To disperse individuals they said had locked themselves with the intention of provoking violence, Israeli police have invaded the mosque twice this week, where hundreds of thousands of people have been worshipping during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

Even among Israel’s supporters, video of police assaulting worshippers who opposed them caused anxiety and sparked outrage across the Arab world.

The Temple Mount, a place of pilgrimage for both Muslims and Jews in Jerusalem’s Old City, has a long history of conflict, particularly when Jewish tourists disobey a ban on non-Muslim prayer there.

Palestinians’ aspirations of establishing an independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital in the West Bank and Gaza have diminished as a result of the long-dead international-led peace process.

In the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, Israel took control of East Jerusalem and annexed it as its capital in a decision that was not accepted internationally.

The members of Israel’s new hard-right cabinet are committed to enlarging Jewish settlements in the West Bank and reject a Palestinian state. For its part, Hamas rejects peace with Israel.