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Concern over violence spreading in West Bank and East Jerusalem

The spike in violence coincides with the end of the Jewish holiday of Succot, when authorities are keen to keep Jerusalem’s Old City open for both Jewish prayer at the Western Wall and Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount

Source: BICOM

What happened: In Jenin this morning there were was another heavy exchange of fire between the IDF and Palestinian gunmen

• According to Palestinian sources, one Palestinian was killed, with twenty injured.
• In East Jerusalem, for a second night running there has been violent rioting across eight Arab neighbourhoods, including Issawiya, Shuafat and Silwan. Incidents included rocks, fireworks, pipe bombs and firecrackers thrown against police and civilian vehicles.
• Two police and Border Police officers sustained light injuries from an improvised explosive device that was thrown at them during one of the incidents in Issawiya.
• Overall 19 East Jerusalemites were arrested last night, a similar number to the night before.
• Elsewhere in the West Bank there were clashes yesterday including in Hawara, just south of Nablus. Palestinians who were throwing stones at Israeli cars, were later confronted by a group of settlers who also threw stones at Palestinian vehicles.
• Security forces have continued the manhunt for the gunman that killed Sgt. Noa Lazar at the Shuafat checkpoint last week.

Context: The spike in violence coincides with the end of the Jewish holiday of Succot, when authorities are keen to keep Jerusalem’s Old City open for both Jewish prayer at the Western Wall and Muslim prayer on the Temple Mount.

• As of this morning, police have decided to allow full access to Muslim worshippers al-Aqsa Mosque for Friday prayers.
• The violence in the West Bank over the last few months has centred on Nablus and Jenin. Overall around 100 Palestinians have been killed. According to Israeli estimates, close to 95 of whom were involved in terrorism or active violence.
• Two IDF soldiers were killed this week, Noa Lazar and Ido Baruch. She was killed at the entrance to the Shuafat refugee camp, and he was killed near the settlement of Shavei Shomron.
• Over the last few month there has been a steady increase in shooting attacks against IDF and Israeli civilians in the West Bank.
• Whilst the IDF has increasingly engaged in numerous exchanges of fire with Palestinian gunmen, in Jerusalem security forces refrain from using live fire against the rioters and only deploy non- lethal crowd-control measures.
• Whist maintaining quiet in the Gaza Strip, Hamas leaders have continued to encourage terror attacks from the West Bank.
• Yesterday it was cleared for publication that a four man Hamas cell had been arrested. According to the Shin Bet security service the cell was directed by Bilal Bisharat, a Hamas operative based in the Gaza Strip who was released in the Shalit deal.
• The trigger for the spike in violence in Jerusalem is thought to be a response to the closure of the Shuafat camp, in northern Jerusalem, which was imposed after Sgt. Noa Lazar was killed and the subsequent and ongoing manhunt.
• The rise in violence has been exacerbated by the growing popularity among Palestinians on social media for a group called the ‘Lion’s Den’. This is a newly formed group of gunmen from the Nablus casbah who appear politically unaffiliated with either Hamas or Fatah.
• Meanwhile yesterday in Algeria the head of Hamas’s Political Bureau Ismail Haniyeh signed a Palestinian reconciliation agreement with Fatah representative Azzam Al-Ahmed. Fatah and Hamas have been split since Hamas violently took over the Gaza Strip in 2007.
• Whilst in Kazakhstan yesterday, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas received a warm embrace from Russian President Putin on the side-lines of a conference.
• With the close proximity to the election, all these events can be viewed through a political prism. One of the explanations for the rise in popularity of the hard right extremist Itamar Ben Gvir has been his ability to tap into people’s fears over lack of personal security.
• Similarly, Leader of the Opposition Netanyahu also accused the government of losing control of Jerusalem and the northern West Bank

Looking ahead: Palestinian organisations have declared today a “day of rage” and vowed to escalate the disturbances across Jerusalem.

• Four companies of Border Police reservists will be called up to reinforce the troops at various friction points. More reserves are on standby.