Extremists want to increase tension during the holidays of the three religions
Another terrorist attack in recent weeks has been committed in Israel. On Thursday evening in Tel Aviv, two people were shot dead by attackers on a busy street in Tel Aviv, and several more were injured. The Middle Eastern country has not experienced such a wave of extremist attacks in several years. Let's try to figure out what caused the terrorists' activity.
Two young men were victims of a gun attack in Tel Aviv. Seven more people were taken to hospitals with injuries of varying severity. According to authorities, the shooting took place on Tel Aviv's most popular Dizengoff Street, lined with many shops, bars and restaurants. One of the dead Israelis was getting ready for his engagement party…
Israeli security forces tracked down and killed a suspected attacker in a shootout near a mosque in Jaffa, an Arab neighborhood in southern Tel Aviv. The internal security service “Shin Bet” identified the liquidated militant as a 29-year-old Palestinian from Jenin, located in the West Bank. It is reported that he was in Israel illegally.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett promised that everyone who indirectly or directly helped the terrorist would be punished. Foreign Minister Yair Lapid said the Tel Aviv attack was fueled by the “hate ideology” of terrorist organizations: “Young Israelis were killed simply because they were Israelis.”
It is noteworthy that Thursday night's fatal shooting was another attack in a string of recent terrorist attacks in Israel. At the end of March, there were three fatal terrorist attacks in the country. On March 30, five people were shot dead in Bnei Brak, east of Tel Aviv, by a man on a motorcycle who was later killed by police (reportedly a 27-year-old Palestinian from the West Bank).
Two days earlier, on March 28, two Israeli police officers were shot dead and four others were injured in an attack in the city of Hadera. And a week earlier, four people were killed in a stabbing attack in the southern Israeli city of Beer Sheva. The suspect was shot dead. Both of these attacks – both in Hadera and in Beersheba – were committed by Palestinians with Israeli citizenship.
Israeli intelligence agencies predicted a wave of new attempts of terrorist attacks after the March attacks, copying the attacks in Bnei Brak, Beer Sheva and Hadera. And this prediction, as shown by the events in Tel Aviv, alas, came true.
The number of victims in such a short period in Israel is unprecedented since 2015. However, unlike the events of seven years ago, when most attacks in Jerusalem and the West Bank were carried out with the use of lone wolves with bladed weapons, the latest attacks in Israel were carried out in large cities using automatic weapons as well.
The Islamic State (ISIS, IS is a terrorist organization banned in Russia) has claimed responsibility for most of the recent attacks. And this is a rather unusual phenomenon – ISIS has rarely been seen before in the organization of terrorist attacks against Israel (the last such report dates back to 2017), in recent years this has been mainly carried out by supporters of Palestinian Islamist paramilitary groups not associated with the “global jihad” movement. At the same time, the Hamas movement, which controls the Gaza Strip, although did not take responsibility for the latest attacks, highly appreciated their very fact. At the same time, the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank condemned the terrorist attack in Tel Aviv.
Despite the fact that the “Islamic State” announced its involvement in the terrorist attacks on Israeli territory, there is reason to believe that the attacks were carried out by lone terrorists who are not members of the group, but were influenced by the ideology of extremists (which does not exclude the possibility that they supporters). In any case, according to Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the Palestinian who staged the latest terrorist attack in Tel Aviv, as far as is known, did not belong to any group, but most likely had accomplices.
Observers note that Israel has worked in recent years to sideline the Palestinian issue, focusing instead on building alliances with Arab states against Iran. It is significant that the terrorist attack in Hadera was staged at the very time when a landmark regional summit of high-ranking diplomats from Israel, the United States, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt and Morocco was taking place in the Negev desert. It is possible that the terrorist attack sent a threatening signal to the Arab countries, which, according to the extremists, are pursuing a “compromising policy” towards the Jewish state.
Recently, the Israeli authorities issued thousands of additional work permits to Palestinians from the Gaza Strip as part of an attempt to ease tensions in the Palestinian direction. It is possible that the forces that encourage terrorists to attack Israelis are counting on provoking the Israeli authorities to ban Palestinians who want to work there from entering the country – which again is fraught with new unrest, leading to general instability in the region.
It is also noteworthy that the current wave of terrorist attacks in Israeli cities coincided with attempts by Israel, together with the United States, Jordan and the Palestinian Authority, to avoid an escalation in Jerusalem in light of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the upcoming Easter holidays among Jews and Christians. It is likely that extremists are trying – including staging terrorist attacks – to disrupt these efforts in order to riot in the city of three religions, which could ignite conflict outside of Jerusalem. Recall that last year the Israeli military carried out rocket attacks on the Gaza Strip for a dozen days after the outbreak of violence on the streets of Jerusalem during Ramadan.