The conflict between Gaza and Israel continues despite a recent cease-fire. In what has come to be known as “auto intifada”, Palestinians are killing Jewish citizens in Israel using their motor vehicles. So far, the attacks have resulted in four deaths including the death of a three-month-old. The attacks come less than two months after Israel and Palestine agreed to a long-term cease-fire following devastating bombings in the Gaza strip set off by the murder of a Palestinian teenager by Jewish extremists.
Tensions have escalated in recent weeks as confrontations at Jerusalem’s Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif compound continue. The compound, which is considered by Jews to be the holiest site in Jerusalem and by Muslims as one of the holiest sites in Islam, has been shrouded in violence and has prompted these vehicular attacks. Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist group currently in control of Gaza, quickly took responsibility stating, “Hamas blesses the action. What is happening in Jerusalem is helping us prepare for war” and calling the driver who carried out the attacks and was killed by police, “a martyr”. The most recent attack was carried out on November 5 by a Palestinian man who ran over a group of civilians, killing one police officer and injuring 13 people. The attacks incited more violence and sparked rioting in Arab neighborhoods.
Roadblocks have been put in place in flashpoint Palestinian neighborhoods, reinforcement police have been placed at key sites, and concrete barricades have begun to be built along the 24-stops along Jerusalem’s railway. These confrontations come in the midst of increasing violence at the Temple Mount/al-Haram al-Sharif compound. Jewish extremist groups’ publicized plans to visit the compound were viewed as an act of aggression by Palestinian Muslims and resulted in a clash between police and protesting Palestinians at the compound that saw 39 Palestinians injured. Although Jews are permitted to visit the compound, they are forbidden from praying for fear that it might incite more violence. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated last week that Israel plans to keep the rule in place.
Joseph Jules Zerey, a Melkite-Greek Catholic Archbishop decried the increasing violence, “It is terrible not only here, but in Iraq and Syria, it’s terrible to see all of this suffering. We have not been created to kill each other this way. We are acting like savages, even the animals are better than us.”
In the past 5 months, nine people, including four perpetrators of the attacks, have been killed. Archbishop Zerey has called for the government and civilians to work together towards building peace, regardless of religious convictions, stating, “I have to respect him, respect his human rights, but also to help the other, whatever he is, to live in his human dignity.”