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Jenin, Jerusalem … now Israelis grieve as the cycle of violence intensifies | Israel

Silence descends in the holy city of Jerusalem on Friday evening. Many Muslim families are at home spending time together after afternoon prayers; Jewish businesses close just before sunset, buses and trams stop running, and candles on dining tables herald the start of Shabbat.

What began as an ordinary peaceful Friday evening ended in tragedy for the Mizrahi family in the occupied East Jerusalem neighborhood of Neve Yaakov. Around 8:00 pm, a lone Palestinian gunman opened fire on people near the synagogue, killing seven and wounding nine.

Eli and Natalie Mizrahi, newlyweds in their 40s, were having dinner with their family when they heard gunshots and screams outside. They rushed outside to help and paid with their lives.

“We were in the middle of a meal, several shots rang out and my son jumped up,” Eli’s father, Shimon Yisrael, told reporters. “It seems he was talking to a terrorist who pulled out a gun. [Eli] and his wife were killed,” he said. “[The terrorist] stood by his car and he fired at them, then got into the car and fled.”

Neve Yaakov is the worst terrorist attack by Palestinians against Israelis in 15 years and has shaken the country. The shooting comes a day after nine Palestinians were killed in a major Israeli raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank, the highest death toll in a single military operation in more than two decades. Following this, the Palestinian Authority (PA), which governs parts of the West Bank, announced that it was suspending security cooperation with Israel.

The events in Jenin appear to have set off a chain reaction of violence that has brought Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories to the brink of what could become another devastating bloodbath.

Two more Palestinians were shot dead by soldiers in clashes sparked by last Thursday’s raid, and early Friday there was a limited firefight between the Islamist-controlled Gaza Strip and Israel.

On Friday evening, after news of the synagogue shooting broke, Palestinian health authorities said three people were hospitalized after they were shot by an Israeli settler near the West Bank city of Nablus. And on Saturday morning, a 13-year-old boy from East Jerusalem shot and wounded a Jewish father and son outside the walls of the Old City.

The family of Eli and Natalie Mizrachi, victims of the synagogue shooting, are pictured Saturday.
The family of Eli and Natalie Mizrachi, victims of the synagogue shooting, are pictured Saturday. Photograph: Amir Levy/Getty Images

The three days of escalating carnage did not come out of nowhere. Tensions have risen since last spring, when the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) launched Operation Breakwater – one of its largest non-wartime campaigns – in response to a surge in Palestinian terrorist attacks.

The breakwater, which mainly targets Palestinian groups in Jenin and Nablus, has caused the highest death toll in the West Bank since the end of the second intifada in 2005, with about 150 Palestinians and 30 Israelis killed in 2022. have been killed so far this year.

The PA is steadily losing legitimacy and control: for many young Palestinians, who grew up with leaders uninterested in changing the status quo, it is seen as little more than a security subcontractor to the occupation. A new generation of armed militias with only loose ties to Fatah and Hamas, the established Palestinian factions, are becoming increasingly popular, fueled by arms smuggling from Jordan and stolen from IDF bases.

On the other side of the Green Line, the election of the most right-wing government in Israeli history has also made the prospect of a return to full-scale hostilities more likely. It is widely believed that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has become a hostage to the demands of his extremist partners in exchange for their help in overturning a corruption trial.

As the funeral for the deceased Neve Yaakov began on Saturday evening, Netanyahu convened his security cabinet after Shabbat ended to discuss the response to the violence. Both sides fear copycat and price tag attacks; The Israeli police and army are on high alert, and more troops have been deployed to Jerusalem and the West Bank.

On Friday night, Netanyahu urged people not to take matters into their own hands, but his national security minister, the far-right Itamar Ben-Gvir, sang a different tune, telling civilians at the scene of the shooting that “the government must act” and that he would work on weakening gun control laws.

It is impossible to predict what will happen next, but in a recently released joint Palestinian-Israeli poll, 61% of Palestinians and 65% of Israeli Jews now believe that a third intifada is around the corner.

A December poll showed that support for the peace process is at an all-time low, Palestinian support for the armed struggle is rising, and a growing number of Israelis now believe their country should go to war to destroy the Palestinians. military capabilities.

All of these trends are intensifying, study co-author Dr. Dalia Sheindlin said at a press conference in Jerusalem this week.

“Last time there was a majority on both sides [in favour of the two-state solution] was June 2017,” she said. “Support for an undemocratic regime has for the first time surpassed a two-state solution… Peace in the region is more distant than ever.”

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