|Aerial view of Gush Etzion Junction, south of Jerusalem|
Times of Israel says a 16-year-old Palestinian Arab boy approached Border Patrol security personnel guarding the entrance to the ancient and sacred Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron during early Thursday morning. He managed to arouse their suspicions and they stopped and searched him. He was found to be carrying a knife which, in the context of the dozens of stabbing attacks perpetrated by Arabs on Jews since the start of October, is something that produces an immediate Israeli response. He was arrested and taken away to be interrogated. No one was injured in what could easily have become a fatal encounter.
In another part of Hebron this morning, at the Pharmacy Checkpoint (as it's known to Israelis), an improvised explosive grenade was hurled at the security personnel manning the barrier during a "demonstration" by Palestinian Arabs. Times of Israel reports injuries to one of the Israelis, a soldier, who was treated on the spot. No word at this stage about the identity of the attacker. Firebombs were hurled at the security team manning the same checkpoint three weeks ago.
There has been further bloodshed in two major terror attacks done this afternoon in metropolitan Tel Aviv and in the Gush Etzion communities a few minutes drive south of Jerusalem.
|South Tel Aviv's Beit Panorama Center via Google Street View|
Based on an Israel National News report, it appears that a short while later this afternoon, a terror-minded attacker (and perhaps 3 - we are checking) shot at Israelis traveling in at least three vehicles, including a light bus, via an Uzi sub-machine gun (according to Channel 2 News coverage at 6:00 pm) from his car, a Toyota sedan, in the Tzomet Gevaot road junction adjacent to the Alon Shvut community.
The shooter continued on from there, ramming his vehicle into an Israeli victim at the frequently-jam-packed Alon Shvut Junction. One of the shooting victims, described by Jerusalem Post as "an approximately 18-year old... youth [who] was an American tourist"], was pronounced dead at the scene. At least seven more people are injured - two of them critically including a man of about 50 who suffered bullet wounds to the upper parts of his body. He was rushed unconscious to Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital in Jerusalem. Other casualties were taken for emergency treatment at Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center. The attacker was shot; reports say he was "neutralized", a term which leaves some doubt as to whether he is going to be interrogated. (This video appears to show him dead beside his car.) Israel's Channel 2 News says (5:45 pm) reports the shooting deaths of two Israelis and of a third victim, a Palestinian Arab male ("in his forties") described as "evidently killed by accident".
There's still much to absorb in all of this. Israelis will be wanting to understand the implications, including the use of what is termed in Hebrew "hot weapons", a reference to the Uzi. One thing, however, is clear: the very limited interest there is here in attaching flags of Israel to people's social media avatars - experience tells us this generally fails to keep the killers out of our lives.