Friday, July 14, 2017

14-Jul-17: In the Jerusalem Old City shadow of one of their more sacred sites, an Arab-on-Israeli shooting attack

Image Source: Al Jazeera
There has been an Arab-on-Israeli shooting attack this morning - the Moslem Sabbath - at a location adjacent to the sacred Temple Mount (in Hebrew: Har Habayit) plaza in Jerusalem’s Old City.

Two Israeli victims are reported to be seriously injured with gunshot wounds and were rushed to Hadassah Medical Center's Mount Scopus hospital for emergency treatment.

A third is injured more lightly as a result of being hit by shrapnel and sustaining wounds to the neck, arms and hands. He is being treated at Jerusalem's Shaarei Zedek Medical Center.

The three are described in a Times of Israel report as men in their 30s. (Past experience says the initial guesses are often wrong.)

Police opened fire on the Arab attackers and they are all now dead.

Police believe the armed gang approached the Temple Mount plaza shortly after 7:00 am today when the Temple Mount area is generally starting to be thronged by participants in the Friday prayers. They ran [as this graphic brief video shows] toward Lions' Gate - Sha'ar Ha'arayot in Hebrew - where they opened fire on the Israelis.

They then fled towards the Temple Mount complex with Israeli police in pursuit.

Video posted in the past hour shows one of the shooters lying on the ground with Israeli police, guns drawn and surrounding him. He suddenly jumps up, takes a flying leap with a knife drawn clearly trying to wound one of the police officers. He is shot before he can complete the stabbing.

The shooters were armed with two Carlo-style (from Carl Gustav) sub-machine guns and a pistol. A knife was also found at the scene. Photos are circulating on the Hebrew-language social media [link] this morning showing three Israeli photo-identification cards, said to prove that the Arab shooters were all the holders of Israeli citizenship or Israeli residential status.

As scenes of attempted carnage go, the Temple Mount is an especially historical and sacred one. (being frank about this, it's hard to ignore how often murderous attacks of a certain kind happen in synagogues, churches, mosques, sacred places and sacred times. Is there a pattern here?)

Lion's Gate is thought to have that name according to one theory because of the image of leopards - mistaken for lions - two on the left and two on the right - embedded in the wall beside the gate itself. (Another version says they are indeed lions.) It marks the start of the 600 meter long Via Dolorosa along which Jesus walked, according to tradition, on the way to his crucifixion. Fifty years ago, it was the entry point through which Israeli paratroops passed during the 1967 Six-Day War and famously unfurled an Israeli flag above the Temple Mount.

Despite its holy and historical nature, Arab-on-Israeli terror attacks do happen in the vicinity and with growing regularity. We have posted on attacks at or very close to Lions' Gate several times in the past 15 months:
Times of Israel says that in the wake of this morning's terrorist attack, Jerusalem Police chief Yoram Halevi canceled prayers for the day on the Temple Mount for the first time in decades, ordering the complex cleared and the entrances to the holy site closed. Police have also placed security checkpoints at the entrances to the Old City.

Aftermath on the Temple Mount this morning [Image Source]
How did the terrorists manage to bring weapons into the holy site? Normal procedure - perhaps to the surprise of people less familiar with how real life is lived here - is that Muslim visitors to the Temple Mount are subjected to less rigorous security checking than non-Muslim visitors, all of whom are obliged by the Israeli authorities to enter via the Mughrabi foot-bridge.

There's bound to be a high-level investigation since the implications of what happened there today are serious and broad.

Don't expect the Palestinian Arab media to be asking the serious questions. They're still totally stuck in their victim-centric reporting-narrative style - the sort of reporting (referring to the Fatah-controlled and scandalous Ma'an News Agency) that produces this opening line today:
Three Palestinians and two Israeli police officers were killed during an armed confrontation in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem early on Friday morning... ["3 Palestinian citizens of Israel, 2 police officers killed in Jerusalem shooting", Ma'an, today]
Armed confrontation?!

Al Jazeerah's man on the spot offers this insightful gem:
"It is reportedly the first time in years that the compound would be closed for prayers on Friday. Of course this has the potential to increase tensions among the about 10,000 Palestinians who normally pray here on Fridays," Fawcett said. ["Jerusalem: Palestinians killed after 'shooting attack'",  Al Jazeera, today]
Tensions?! The sub-machine guns and the knife don't raise the tensions. The critically injured Israelis don't raise the tensions. The cynical abuse of a site they declare to be holy doesn't raise the tensions. The utter silence of the Muslim religious leadership and their systematic, ongoing failure to condemn Arab-on-Israeli terrorist attacks don't raise the tensions.

But decisions by responsible law-and-order authorities, conditioned by long experience to know the nature of the Palestinian Arab mobs and the harm that generally follows (mainly in their own settlements and to their own children) their irresponsible violence - they raise the tensions.

Lethal journalism is what it's called.

UPDATE 12:30 pm Friday July 14, 2017:
Tragically, the two seriously injured Israelis shot by a gang of armed Arab attackers this morning have died of their wounds [Israel National News]. Times of Israel identifies them as two police officers, both from Israel's Druze community: Haiel Sitawe, 30, from Maghar, a mostly Druze and Arab city in northern Israel, who signed up with the Border Guard as part of his mandatory national service in 2012 and served in the unit responsible for securing the Temple Mount ever since; and Kamil Shnaan, 22, from Hurfeish, an almost entirely-Druze village also in Israel's north. Sitawe is survived by a wife, Irin, and a three-week-old son, as well as parents and three brothers. Shnaan was to celebrate his engagement party to his girlfriend in a week. He leaves behind parents, a brother and three sisters. His father, Shachiv Shnaan, served for a time as Knesset member representing, first the Labor party, and later Ehud Barak's short-lived Independence party.

The three dead attackers are all from the Israeli Arab town of Umm al-Fahm, with a population of more than 50,000 Israel's third-largest Arab community and a center of power for Israel's Islamic Movement whose notorious so-called Northern Branch headed by Raed Sallah was outlawed by Israel in 2016 because of its ties to Hamas and the Moslem Brotherhood. The dead gunman are all called Muhammad Jabarin and all are plainly from the same clan: Muhammad Ahmed Muhammad Jabarin, 29; Muhammad Hamad Abdel Latif Jabarin, 19; and Muhammad Ahmed Mafdal Jabarin, 19. The Jabarin clan's home base is Musherifa, a village in the vicinity of Um-al-Fahm.

UPDATE 3:00 pm Friday July 14, 2017
An updated version of the Ma'an news report on the terror attack calls the two proudly-patriotic Israeli Druze police officers who were the victims of the shooting attack this morning "Palestinian citizens of Israel" whose lives ended "during an armed confrontation":

We fear the intention of the Ma'an editorial spinmeisters was not to bring comfort to the families of the fallen Druze police men.

In similar black-is-white fashion, the savages of Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fulsomely praised today's shooting attack with their own public statements. Hamas called the brazen bloodshed at a sacred site "heroic" and a ''natural consequence of a series of crimes''. Not to be outdone in the chase for outlandish similes, Islamic Jihad said the shootings were ''demonstrations of courage by our people against occupying forces that must now beware to cross a red line''.

Whether or not the Israeli side is going to be more cautious about crossing an imaginary Islamist line in the coming days, what's sadly clear (again) is that on a day in which five lives, all of them Arab, were lost in pointless Jerusalem violence, the fat-cats in Gaza are congratulating themselves as they pump the heads of their society's children with self-destructive notions of honor, courage and dying while killing the "occupiers" in the occupiers's own capital city.

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