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What triggered the uptick in violence? – analysis

CM 25/04/2021 2


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After enjoying one of the most peaceful years in Israel’s history, the recent nightly violence in Jerusalem, and dozens of rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip over the weekend, caught many by surprise.But nobody should have been surprised. A number of factors have come together to trigger the tension and the violence, and had more attention been paid to these factors – rather than to the country’s unending political maneuvering – it would have been possible to see the writing on the wall.Here are four key factors that have contributed to the violence:

Ramadan

Ramadan, which began on April 12 and is expected to end on May 12, has historically been a time of increased violence and terrorism in Jerusalem and around the country.Datagraver, a Dutch project that “harvests and scrapes data from various online government pages and databases to create figures and dashboards,” produced a report in 2016 saying that in the years 2006-2015 there was not a correlation globally between terrorist attacks and Ramadan.But there is a significant variation on this per country, the report said, adding: “In Bangladesh, Iran and Lebanon the number of attacks during Ramadan is over 50% lower than during non-Ramadan days. In Israel it’s over 200% higher.”A look at recent history in Israel bears this out.In 2015, following the fatal shooting of Malachi Rosenfeld on June 29 near Shilo, then ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor wrote a letter to the UN Security Council saying that “in the two weeks since the beginning of Ramadan… there has been a dramatic increase in attacks against Israelis. Each day seems to bring with it news of a shooting attack, or a stabbing. Just yesterday, a terrorist stabbed a 19-year-old female soldier next to Rachel’s Tomb, causing severe injuries.”

The following year, six Israelis were killed during the month of Ramadan. The IDF Spokesperson’s Office said this of that period: “Ramadan is supposed to be a time of peace. Instead, terrorists and extremists have exploited this holy month to end a period of relative calm in the nine-month wave of terror. Six innocent civilians were murdered in three terror attacks over the course of the holiday, and many more were wounded.”In 2017, Border Police officer Hadas Malka  was stabbed to death by a Palestinian terrorist at Damascus Gate.In 2019, the Foreign Ministry reported that in May of that year, the month in which Ramadan fell, there was “a dramatic increase in the number of terrorist attacks, compared to April: 449, as opposed to 126. Out of these 449 attacks, 362 were instances of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip.”And in 2020, one of the three Israelis killed in terrorist attacks that year, Staff-Sergeant Amit Ben Yigal, was killed during Ramadan.It is no secret, therefore, that there is generally an uptick in violence here during Ramadan. This was compounded this year with Israel entering a post-coronavirus period, and – for the first time in a year – more and more people gathering, including more possible points of friction between Arabs and Jews.

Palestinian elections

What better way to win votes in the upcoming Palestinian elections – the legislative election is scheduled for May 22 and the presidential election for July 31 – than to come across as the defender of Jerusalem?As The Jerusalem Post’s Khaled Abu Toameh pointed out, the latest violence in Jerusalem began on the first day of Ramadan when activists affiliated with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction attacked policemen near the Old City with fireworks, rocks and firebombs.Though the excuse for this was a questionable Jerusalem police decision to ban gatherings on the steps at Damascus Gate, Abu Toameh said this was part of a campaign to pressure Israel to allow the Palestinian elections to take place in Jerusalem.This is a double game Abbas seems to be playing, as many believe that fearing defeat, his hope is that Israel not allow the elections to take place in Jerusalem, giving him a pretense for canceling them and then placing the blame on Israel.And this places Israel in a classic lose-lose situation. If it allows the elections in Jerusalem, it would be seen as giving in to Fatah’s demands, surrendering some of its sovereignty in the city and perhaps enabling an election that Hamas might very well win. But if it doesn’t allow the elections in Jerusalem, it will be blamed by Abbas for postponing them, which could then be an excuse for more Palestinian violence.Once a fire was lit in Jerusalem – a fire made all the more combustible by the demonstration and violence of the extremist Jewish Lehava group on Thursday night, with their “Death to the Arabs” chants and violent provocations – terrorist groups in Gaza could not sit quiet. Hamas could not be seen to prevent them from venting their ire by shooting off rockets at Israel in a show of support for Arabs in Jerusalem wanting to protect al-Aksa Mosque and Jerusalem from the Jews.Hamas, unlike Abbas, very much wants the upcoming elections to take place as planned. Its decision to allow the salvo of rockets from Gaza may be a warning to Israel and to Abbas of what will come if these elections are called off – a promo of sorts.

The political situation in Israel

Weaknesses can be exploited, and Israel currently is as weak politically as it has been for decades.Israel’s adversaries know that with a parity government made up of rivals each trying to trip up the other calling the shots, Israel’s ability to smoothly decide on how to respond will be limited.Plus, Israel is obviously not well-served when critical security decisions are being made at the political level by two individuals who have shown that they loathe each other.Some were surprised at Israel’s restrained response to the rocket attacks this weekend, and political considerations may be involved in that decision.Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be concerned that any large-scale action at this time could eat away at the remaining week he has to try to form a government. And Defense Minister Benny Gantz, if he pushes for a more aggressive military response, could open himself up to criticism that he is merely trying to woo into a possible unity government Yamina’s Naftali Bennett – who, in the past, was critical of the IDF’s restrained response to Gaza provocations.This government’s failure to function smoothly is out there for everyone to see – including Israel’s enemies. And they are obviously tempted to take advantage of this weakness for their benefit.

Iran

Over the last few weeks a lot has been happening on the Iranian front, coinciding with indirect talks between the US and Iran in Vienna and progress toward rejoining the 2015 nuclear deal. This included explosions at Iranian nuclear facilities and attacks on Iranian ships.In the best of times – meaning, when all is going in their favor – Iran has shown an interest in wanting to keep the heat on Israel through the use of their proxies, including Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza. And now they have an even greater incentive, as a way to retaliate for what they claim to be Israeli actions.Iran always has an interest in making Israel bleed, and it has traditionally done this through the actions of its proxies in Lebanon and Gaza. It has an even greater incentive to do this now.As a general rule, it’s safe to say that Iran’s fingerprints can be found somewhere whenever there is a sudden uptick in violence in the neighborhood. Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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