The framework is crumbling
AS NOON drew near on Wednesday, Israelis cautiously whispered to each other, anxious not to tempt fate or the evil eye.
Twenty-four hours had passed without a terror attack anywhere in the country. Perhaps things were beginning to calm down.
But even if Monday and Tuesday — which saw two simultaneous attacks in Jerusalem, including shootings in a bus, vehicle ramming, stabbing and axing, together killing three Israelis and injuring many others — proved to be the peak of this round of violence, it was clear something fundamental had changed.
Before and after the Jerusalem attacks, Palestinians stabbed and wounded five civilians in two separate attacks in the normally peaceful Tel Aviv suburb of Ra’anana. The perpetrators in all the cases were young men from East Jerusalem.
Israeli security officials are frank in assessing the situation and admitting that despite deploying of hundreds more soldiers and police officers to Jerusalem and other cities, roadblocks at the exits from Palestinian neighbourhoods and increased vigilance on all fronts, their options are limited.
There is little that can be done to prevent a teenager, with no prior connections to terror organisations, who decides to risk his life, drawing a knife and trying to stab Israeli citizens.
Closing eastern Jerusalem, as some — including Mayor Nir Barkat — have demanded, is almost unfeasible and would be ruinous to the city’s economy.
Even if a lull is around the corner, it will take very little to send the situation spiralling out of control once again.
The propaganda on official Palestinian media describing those who murdered Israelis as “heroes” and “martyrs”, just like their conspiracy theories on Jewish plans to destroy the Al Aqsa mosque, certainly come under the category of “incitement”.
But to say that this is alone what is motivating younger Palestinians to carry out these attacks is a misreading of the situation.
These youngsters have dozens of other websites and tens of thousands of Facebook pages where they received such messages, long before the Palestinian Authority’s channels cottoned on to the public mood.
As it is, they have little trust in the official leadership. Baha Alaan, one of the two Palestinians who carried out the shooting attack on the number 78 bus in Jerusalem’s Armon Hanetziv neighbourhood on Tuesday, tweeted before embarking on the rampage that “the (Palestinian) Authority doesn’t decide when things calm down”.
Al Aqsa and events around the Temple Mount will remain both potent symbols and potential flash- points, but the deeper causes for the ever-closer cycles of violence are a general breakdown of trust between the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships and between Palestinian leaders and their people.
Senior Israeli officers have been warning for five years that the status quo would not last and that at some