Thursday, May 01, 2014

1-May-14: Striking back at the rising terrorist violence in Jerusalem

Isawiya viewed from Mt Scopus, Jerusalem [Image Source]
If you refer back to previous posts here (for instance "6-Apr-14: Scenes from an ongoing war"), you will know that serious and rising levels of violence have become part of life in several Jerusalem neighbourhoods that border on Arab communities.

Yesterday, after several months of investigation, the police along with the Israel Security Agency (Israelis know it as the Shin Bet), announced the arrest of several members of what they are calling a terror cell. It was based in Isawiya, an Arab neighbourhood in the eastern part of Israel's capital that borders on the Hadassah Mt Scopus hospital campus.

The members of the cell are charged with a string of violent attacks on Israelis focused on Jerusalem's French Hill quarter and the adjoining Mount Scopus campus of the Hebrew University. Those include the hurling of firebombs (media reports often call these Molotov Cocktails though that makes them sound too benign) at a synagogue six months ago, at a residential apartment two months ago, and at a dance club in April - all in French Hill. Israel National News, one of the few news channels to regularly report on this sort of attack, says 
Attacks from Isawiya have become so violent over the past several months that students at nearby Hebrew University Mount Scopus Campus have declared the area a "war zone"... Residents of the French Hill area stated earlier this month that they felt "abandoned" by the State and the IDF over the waves of terrorism in their neighborhood. Arab [residents] of Issawiya routinely harass female students at the university as they make their way from the dormitories to the campus...
It's not disclosed at this stage whether these men see themselves as under the command of Hamas, the PA or anyone else. That may come out later.

Astonishingly, another Jerusalem terror cell was uncovered earlier the same day. The Shin Bet and the IDF said the charges this time involve shootings and attacks by explosives based on agricultural fertilizer inputs. One of the members is an Arab Israeli; he exploited that status to acquire the materials needed for the explosives and to obtain weapons. It appears the funding came from Hamas. INN says additional cell members are likely to be indicted in the coming days. It adds that before the men were arrested, they had been investigated by the Palestinian Authority's security forces, held for a short time and then released even though a remote detonator for explosives was found in their possession.

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