Operation Protective Edge: Attacks After the Operation
In the months following Operation Protective Edge, Israel was struck with a series of terror attacks from Palestinians using unorthodox methods and striking fear into the hearts of Israeli civilians. In addition to simmering tensions from Operation Protective Edge, these attacks were a response to controversy at the Temple Mount regarding security and Muslim access to the al-Aqsa Mosque. These attacks have been carried out by "lone wolf" individuals and have not been ordered or organized through organizations such as Hamas. The spate of attacks has not yet been labelled a "third intifada", but experts are worried that it may only be a matter of time before more serious attacks begin to take place and the violence reignites.
Vulnerable Israeli pedestrians waiting for the light-rail trains became the most desirable target for individuals looking to incite terror, and cars became their most effective weapon in late 2014. On October 22, Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi rammed his car into a crowd of people waiting at Israels Ammunition Hill light-rail station injuring multiple people and leaving three month old Chaya Zissel Braun and twenty two year old Ecuadorian tourist Karen Mosquera dead. Chaya Braun was a United States citizen born in Rockland County New York whose parents had come to Israel just months before to study in the Yeshiva. Her parents along with six other individuals were seriously wounded in the attack. Karen Mosquera was in the process of converting to Judaism and considering a move to Jerusalem. She was taken to an Israeli hospital but later died of the wounds she sustained from the crash. The individual responsible for the attack had a history of security related offenses and was no stranger to Israeli security forces. Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi had spent multiple short periods of time in Israeli prisons over the years prior to the attack and his mental state was not stable. According to his mother, hours before the attack she had taken her son to a doctor for an evaluation, who then referred her to a psychiatrist. Despite this, his mother retains the fact that this incident was simply a car accident. He attempted to flee the scene of the attack but was shot by Israeli security forces and later died of his wounds in an Israeli hospital. In the day following the attack, Shaloudi's death was celebrated in the streets and on social media by Fatah members and the Palestinian public. A post on the Fatah official Facebook page read "The Silwan branch of Fatah honors the heroic martyr Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi, who executed the Jerusalem operation which led to the running over of settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem". Shaloudi was the nephew of a killed Hamas explosives expert and is known to have been a Hamas supporter. The Israeli military levelled the home of Abdel-Rahman Shaloudi on November 20 2014, leaving his family homeless.
Two weeks later in a similar attack an Arab man named Ibrahim al-Akary slammed his car into a group of individuals waiting at a light-rail station, killing Jedan Assad, a Druze border police officer. The November 5 attack injured fourteen other people who were standing at the station. Jedan Assad was the father to a three year old boy and his wife was five months pregnant at the time. After slamming into the group of people, al-Akary continued to drive along the light-rail tracks hitting several cars before coming to stop. He then stepped out of his car brandishing a large metal bar and violently began to attack Israeli security forces standing nearby. Al-Akary managed to injure multiple officers before he was shot to death by other officers arriving at the scene. Israeli officials believe that al-Akary was radicalized primarilly by his brother, who had spent 19 years in an Israeli prison for kidnapping and murdering an Israeli soldier in 1992. His brother was released in 2011as a part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange deal.
Israeli soldier Almog Shiloni was stabbed to death in an attack on November 10 as he stood gaurd at a train station in Tel Aviv. Shiloni was stabbed multiple times in the leg by an eighteen year old Palestinian individual who was trying to grab the soldier's automatic rifle. The assailant lightly injured a passerby who attempted to intervene and stop the attack. The soldier was found minutes later and had lost too much blood, he died later that day in an Israeli hospital. The attacker was arrested at the scene and interrogated by the Shin Bet.
In yet another vehicular related attack, on November 10 an individual associated with the Palestinian Islamic Jihad rammed his car into three people waiting for a bus in Jerusalem. After slamming his car into the bus stop, Maher Hamdi A-Shalmon realized that he had not in fact killed the three Israelis standing there. He got out of his car with a knife and began wildly slashing and stabbing the people that he had hit, killing twenty five year old Dalia Lamkus and injuring two men aged twenty six and fifty. The individual responsible for the attack, Maher Hamdi A-Shalmon had spent time in an Israeli prison from 2000-2005 for throwing a homemade firebomb at Israeli troops. He was arrested at the scene, and was sentenced to two consecutive life sentences on March 26, 2015.
In the most violent terror attack against Israel since the 2008 attack on the Merkas HaRav Yeshiva that left eight students dead and eleven seriously injured, on the morning of November 17 two Palestinian cousins went on a bloody rampage in Jerusalem's Kehilat Yaakov Synagogue. At 7a.m. during morning prayers, cousins Ghassan and Uday Abu Jamal entered the Synagogue from the main entrance, unseen to the twenty five individuals praying with their backs turned and their heads down inside. Armed with meat cleavers, knives, an ax and a gun, the cousins began slashing, stabbing and shooting at the individuals engrossed in prayer. Chaos soon engulfed the sanctuary and before Israeli security forces could stop the massacre four people lay dead, brutally murdered by the extremists. When security forces arrived a gun battle ensued, claiming the life of Master Sergant Zidan Sif before the Palestinian cousins were finally killed. Inside the Synagogue Rabbi Avraham Shmuel Goldberg, Rabbi Moshe Twersky, Rabbi Kalman Zeev Levine, and Aryeh Kupinsky lay dead. Rabbi Goldberg was a British citizen holding dual citizenship with Israel, and Rabbi Twersky, Rabbi Levine, and Mr Kupinsky were all US citizens holding dual citizenship. According to their friends and family, the perpetrators of the attack were motivated by what the percieved as a Jewish takeover of the al-Aqsa Mosque, in addition to frustration over the death of a Palestinian bus driver who was found hanged in his bus on November 16. The death of this bus driver was ruled a suicide by Israeli and Palestinian independent medical examiners. This attack was the first in this series of attacks that was condemned by Mahmoud Abbas, who said that "We condemn the killings of worshipers at the synagogue in Jerusalem, and condemn acts of violence no matter their source".
Israeli officials have had a variety of responses to these attacks. As mentioned before, the Israeli policy of demolishing a terrorists home has been put to use during this volatile time. In addition to these home demolitions, policy changes are taking place in Israel as a response to the violence. Israel's Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich announced a relaxation of gun carrying laws on November 18 for Israelis who already are permitted to carry a weapon. This relaxation of the law applies to security personnel, police officers, and off duty soldiers. On November 20 the Mayor of Ashkelon, Itmar Shimoni, announced the barring of Israeli-Arab construction workers from working constructing bomb shelters for pre-schools in his city. In addition, he announced an increase in security for all areas where Israeli-Arabs are employed. When pushed and asked if this kind of action is illegal, Shimoni responded with "Anyone who thinks this is illegal can take me to court. At this time, I prefer to be taken to court and not, God forbid, to attend the funeral of one of the children from kindergartens." The individuals that Shiloni is trying to block from work are Israeli citizen Arabs, not Palestinians from the Gaza Strip and West Bank who have been carrying out most of the attacks. The Mayor's decision was criticized by Prime Minister Netanyahu, as well as Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
Jewish extremists perpetrated an arson attack against a first grade classroom at a Jewish-Arab school in Jerusalem on November 30 after school hours. Two suspects hopped over a fence bordering the Max Rayne Hand in Hand School for Bilingual Education late at night on November 30 and defaced multiple classrooms. The individuals spray painted "death to Arabs" and "there is no coexistance with cancer" on stone walls in the classroom hallways, and then gathered books, toys, and school supplies and lit a fire that torched a first grade classroom.
On December 1 an Israeli civilian was stabbed and lightly wounded by a Palestinian woman named Amal Taqata in Gush Etzion. The civilian did not require hospitalization, but the attacker was shot by Israeli security forces as she tried to run away from the scene and was taken to the Hadassah University Medical Center for treatment. Israeli police questioned the attacker's family but made no arrests and found that she had no record of extremist behavior and had never been incarcerated in an Israeli prison.
Two Israeli shoppers were stabbed in their heads, shoulders, and hands by a Palestinian assailant outside of a Rami Levy supermarket in the West Bank on December 3. When the assailant tried to flee the scene they were shot in the leg by the supermarket security gaurd. The assailant and both victims were taken to Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem where they recieved treatment for their wounds.
A prominent local farmer from the West Bank named Avi Ben-Tzion was driving towards his home in Netiv Hagdud on December 2 when at about 2p.m. his car was stopped by a group of Palestinian individuals claiming they were having car trouble. The Palestinians pulled Ben-Tzion from his carand began kicking him and beating his head with an iron bar. After seriously injuring him, they stole his car and escaped. Ben-Tzion was airlifted to a hospital and died of his wounds on December 4. His organs were donated to individuals in need.
At about 1a.m. on December 4 a Palestinian individual hurled a homemade pipe-bomb at an Israeli police car and fled the scene at a high speed. Israeli security officers gave chase and the driver crashed into a pole, after which he attempted to flee on foot but was stopped by the Israeli police. The officers found three more pipe-bombs when searching the vehicle, and were injured by rocks thrown by bystanders while conducting the search.
A Palestinian man acting alone threw a yet unidentified acid-like substance at a group of Israelis at a popular hitchhiking stop in Jerusalem in mid December, injuring six people including four young girls. While a woman and her four daughters pulled up to the hitchhiking stop, an Arab man approached the car from the right side and asked for directions, before throwing what was described as a cup or small bottle of a liquid into the car that proceeded to burn the driver and her daughters. The material inside of the bottle also hit another man waiting at the stop, who suffered facial burns from the material as well and began to run away after he was hit. The perpetrator of the attack attempted to flee the scene but witnesses gave pursuit and he was eventually apprehended after threatening Israeli security forces with a screwdriver. The terrorist, Jamal Abu Riadah had spent 2004-2007 in an Israeli prison for Jihadist activity. According to medical professionals who arrived at the scene the wounded individuals were suffering from burning of the eyes and skin and difficulty breathing . They were taken to a local hospital and released after treatment.
A Palestinian individual hurled a firebomb at a car carrying an Israeli father and daughter on December 25 2014, causing massive burns to the young girl. The girl's 40 year old father suffered only light injuries, while the girl herself endured third degree burns to over 50% of her body, mostly her upper torso and head/face.
A 21 year old Yeshiva student from Brooklyn was visiting Jerusalem's Old City for his 21st birthday on January 8 2014 when he was stabbed in the back by a Palestinian attacker on his way to the Western Wall. The victim, Joshua Fishman had been studying in Israel at the Yeshiva for almost three years at the time of the attack. A picture posted on Israeli news sites shows the weapon, a screwdriver, driven up to it's hilt into Fishman's back. Fishman was taken to the hospital and did not require an operation to mend his punctured lung.
After two weeks of calm, Israeli police were able to subdue a suspect after he stabbed 13 people on a Tel Aviv bus, seriously injuring the driver and multiple passengers. The bus driver stopped the bus after the 23 year old perpetrator began stabbing wildly at bus patrons. After a struggle with the bus driver during which he sustained two stab wounds to the chest, the suspect fled the scene after stabbing people standing outside of the bus. A gaurd from the prison service saw the situation unfold, and acted quickly to subdue the suspect as he was fleeing the scene. The gaurd described how the attack unfolded: "We saw the bus swerve to the side... then stop at a green light. Suddenly we saw people running out of the bus and when we saw them shouting for help, we jumped out... and started running after the terrorist." The attacker was a Palestinian who was in Israel working illegally and was upset about the recent tensions over the Temple Mount and frustrated about the devastation caused by the Israeli army during Operation Protective Edge. The day after this attack occured, the Israeli government rolled out a plan to equip all of the country's bus drivers with the knowledge, skills, and tools necessary to subdue terrorist threats on their buses. Israeli counter-terrorism officials, along with Israeli police and Transportation Ministry officials outlined a plan that would see 10,000 of Israel's bus drivers trained in how to handle a deadly situation with a terrorist individual on their bus. Training will include courses on handling explosive devices, and basic Krav Maga training as well. Bus drivers will be granted certain "search and detain" rights as a part of this new plan.
In yet another vehicular terrorist attack, on March 6, 2015, a Palestinian man from East Jerusalem drove his vehicle through a group of female Israeli police officers and slammed his car into a light-rail train station. Six people were given first aid treatment at the scene including five young female police officers and one 50 year old Israeli citizen who was injured when the car struck the light-rail stop. The attack took place outside of a border police station that had seen five similar attacks over the previous year. The Palestinian individual was subdued by a gunshot delivered by an Israeli security officer, and when searched the Israelis found a large knife in his posession.
Two IDF soldiers were stabbed by a Hamas member and suffered non-life threatening injuries on April 8, 2015. The attacker was killed via gunshot delivered by one of the victims at the scene.
During the last week of April 2015, multiple Israeli police officers and security personnel were seriously injured in attacks perpetrated by Palestinian individuals. Late on April 25, 2015, a suspect began erratically driving on the sidewalk, striking four police officers before driving away. The wounded policemen were airlifted to a local hospital and police arrested the suspect the next morning. Earlier in the day a Palestinian man violently attacked a border patrol officer with a knife, slashing his face and neck and causing significant injuries. The attacker was shot by a second security officer and later died of his wounds.
Three Israeli soldiers were seriously wounded in a hit-and-run terror attack on August 6, 2015, in the West Bank settlement of Shiloh. A Palestinian individual drove his car into a security checkpoint, and was shot and treated for his injuries. Emergency treatment was provided at the scene for all individuals involved.
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