Earlier, I wrote elsewhere that for months, Palestinians have been saying with concern, the feeling of a new Intifada is in the air.
But an Intifada is an uprising, a protest against the occupation, a movement for liberation, for a better life — for life.
Today, hatred and murder are in the air.
Someone — yes, a terrorist, but we do not yet know which type — entered the library of a religious Jewish school in West Jerusalem tonight, a school apparently closely affiliated with a fervent settler movement, and fired hundreds of bullets. So far, at least 8 are confirmed dead.
Israel’s YNet news websited reported later that “The seminar is the Mercaz Harav yeshiva in the Kiryat Moshe quarter of Jerusalem, a well-known center of Jewish studies identified with the leadership of the settlement movement”. This article can be found here .
The terrorist was killed, too. How?
The Jerusalem Post has just reported that “Yitzhak Dadon, a student, said he was armed with a rifle and waited on the roof of a nearby building. “He came out of the library spraying automatic fire … the terrorist came to the entrance and I shot him twice in the head,” he said“.
This is a school in the holy city of Jerusalem which has armed and apparently student volunteer snipers — not members of an official police or security or military force — posted on the roof of a nearby building?
This JPost story is published here.
UPDATE: Haaretz later reported that “Jerusalem District police chief Aharon Franco said the terrorist entered the yeshiva, pulled out an automatic weapon from his bag and began firing in all directions. An Israel Defense Forces paratrooper who had his weapon with him engaged the terrorist in a gun battle, and two police detectives who arrived on the scene also fired at the assailant. The terrorist was killed in the incident. Security officials said the terrorist was a resident of East Jerusalem”. The Haaretz story is posted here .
YNet later added: “A yeshiva student who shot the Jerusalem terrorist says he was busy studying when suddenly shots rang out, prompting him to grab his gun and eventually kill the Palestinian attacker. ‘We realized something happened so I cocked my handgun’, Yitzhak Dadon told Ynet Thursday evening. ‘I went up on the roof and waited for the terrorist. Meanwhile, I saw blood and shattered glass’, Dadon said. ‘The terrorist continue firing in the air, so I waited to see him again, and then I shot him twice in the head’. Dadon says the terrorist continued firing even after he was hurt. ‘He kept on firing until an IDF officer arrived and shot him again’, Dadon said”. This apparently more complete account is published here .
The Associated Press reported that “Israeli defense officials said the attacker came from east Jerusalem, the predominantly Palestinian section of the city. Jerusalem’s Palestinians have Israeli ID cards that give them freedom of movement inside Israel, unlike Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza … After the shooting, hundreds of seminary students demonstrated outside the building, screaming for revenge and chanting, “Death to Arabs” … This was the first major attack by Palestinian militants on the Jewish side of Jerusalem in the last four years, although police and the military claimed to have foiled many attempts. Between 2001 and 2004, at the height of Palestinian-Israeli fighting, Jerusalem was a frequent target of Palestinian attacks, including suicide bombings on buses”. This report is here .
This attack is similar to one carried out a month or two ago in a huge settlement block known as Gush Etzion in the southern West Bank. The attackers were reportedly two Palestinians who had recently been released from prison for membership in, supposedly, either Hamas or Islamic Jihad, I think (but often these claims of attacks are not reliable) — they were killed by an armed guard.
But that was in a militant settlement block.
This attack was in Jerusalem.
Only hours earlier, even before this attack, and in advance of the Friday holy day here, the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem sent out this warning: “Protests Expected in Old City This Friday, Consulate Staff Advised to Avoid Area. The Israeli National Police are reporting the possibility of a large protest on and near the Haram Al-Sharif /Temple Mount and the Old City this Friday, March 7, 2008 in protest of the ongoing situation in Gaza. There is expected to be a heavy police presence in and around the Old City which may spark disturbances at entry points including Damascus, Herod’s and Lion’s Gates. Protests sometimes lead to violent clashes, and the Consulate General is recommending its employees avoid the area in and around the Old City all day … While there is no specific information indicating a threat to Americans or American interests, there is the potential for heightened tensions. Random checkpoints and closures of crossings from the West Bank into Israel can be expected. In addition, planned and spontaneous demonstrations may occur in Jerusalem, in the vicinity of the Old City and outlying areas”.
So, the checkpoints will be impossible for the coming days.
And, the Foreign Press Association in Israel also sent out this notice to its members today: “The FPA has received a call from the US Consulate in Jerusalem today, warning American and foreign journalists of intention by some groups in Gaza to abduct them. The Consulate reiterates its warning against travel to Gaza in the light of this warning. We do not know any more details about the threat or its credibility, but we will circulate details as soon as we do.”
On the 18th of February, the FPA informed its members that: “In recent days the FPA has received a number of separate reports from colleagues in Gaza suggesting a renewed threat to foreign journalists. These threats come from the Army of Islam and there have been reports of gunmen entering hotels and checking for the presence of foreign journalists. It is hard to deliver an accurate assessment of how serious this threat is but we urge all members to be extra vigilant and to consider their profile and exposure while working in Gaza. We will distribute additional information as we get it.
Please send in any information you may have”.