03/30/2022, 12.10
ISRAEL - PALESTINE
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Rabbì Milgrom: Israel 'surprised' by attacks. Fears for an escalation

An attacker from Jenin killed five people last night in a suburb of Tel Aviv, two are Ukrainians. This is the third attack in a week, at least 11 victims. Abu Mazen condemns the attack but the Hamas leader "proud" for the "heroic" gesture. Pacifist Rabbi: a test case for the government and its hold. Risk of new tensions ahead of annual Land Day. 

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Tension is rising in Israel after the serious attack last night in Bnei Brak (Tel Aviv), the third in a week, in which at least five people died, two of whom are Ukrainian citizens aged 23 and 32, as well as a policeman.

The Hamas described the attack as a "heroic" gesture. The leader of the Palestinian Authority - solicited by the Israeli government - condemned the the violence but his words were not enough to calm down. The spiral of violence, says Jeremy Milgrom tells AsiaNews, has "taken the country by surprise" and there is the fear that it could escalate and result in an open conflict as happened in May last year in the Gaza Strip. 

The attack took place in three different phases in the metropolitan area of Israel's economic and commercial capital. Defense Ministry sources say that the attacker is 26-year-old Diaa Hamarsheh, originally from Jenin in the West Bank, already known to security forces and arrested in the past for "terrorist" activities. He allegedly moved around on a motorcycle, striking unsuspecting bystanders and innocent civilians. In addition to the two Ukrainian citizens, the victims are 32-year-old police officer Amir Khoury, 36-year-old Yaakov Shalom and 29-year-old Avishai Yehezkel, who allegedly protected his young son with his own body, saving him. 

Two days before, a shooting in the city of Hadera had caused the death of two policemen. Last week four other people were stabbed to death in Be'er Sheva, in the south. In both cases the Islamic State (IS, formerly Isis) had claimed the violence, but the contours remain obscure and there is no certainty about the matrix of the violence, which prompted the Israeli Prime Minister Naftlai Bennett to convene the Security Council and evaluate responses to a wave of violence that begins to worry and is already a source of internal political controversy.

Jeremy Milgrom, Israeli rabbi and member of the NGO Rabbis for Human Rights, underlines that "many Israelis have been surprised" by the attacks and by the fact that the Islamic State "can strike in the country". The feeling, or the hope, is that they can be "isolated cases", but the problem of violence remains: "Many Arabs are integrated, they work in construction, transport, medical sector, police force, two of the victims of these days were Arabs".

There is a lack of long-term policies, for controversies that have been unresolved for too long. "We need true equality - he continues - to recognize the right to citizenship and equal rights" even if the situation is different from those living in Israel and the Occupied Territories, then Gaza and the same Palestinian refugees abroad. "Many people think that force should be used - Milgrom says - instead a change of mentality is needed, while Israel tends to respond using more force, with arrests and denying civil liberties to Palestinians".

At the level of diplomacy, the Palestinian issue seems to have disappeared "since they have not even mentioned it in the past few days in the meeting with Arab leaders". And the government itself, which includes an Islamic party, "will most likely be more aggressive, with policies even harsher than those of its predecessor Netanyahu. These events - he concludes - represent a test for the executive and its hold".

The President of the Palestinian National Authority Abu Mazen has condemned what happened in Bnei Brak, one of the most populated ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. He stressed that "the killing of Palestinian and Israeli civilians can only further deteriorate the situation, especially on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan and the Christian and Jewish holidays". Different the tenor of Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas: "We are proud - he said - of the Palestinian people and the free people of the nation, for the heroic attack" that hit Israel.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a statement condemning the wave of violence that has so far caused 11 victims, speaking of acts that "never find justification". However, Jewish extremists respond to violence with violence by burning cars and raiding homes. There have been numerous episodes in recent days, the latest occurred in recent hours in Asira al-Qibliya, a village southwest of Nablus, with a call for attacks against the Israelis calling for a response "in terms of blood". Now the attentions are focused on the celebrations of the 46th Land Day that Arab leaders have confirmed for today, despite fears that a demonstration of this nature may contribute to exacerbate even more tension. 

 

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