The attack on a Jerusalem synagogue on Tuesday was the latest in a series of revenge attacks that threatens to take the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to dangerous levels. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to win the “battle for Jerusalem”.
Taking a step back, the latest round of violence in Jerusalem was primarily triggered by the gruesome murder of Mohammed Abu Khdeir, a Palestinian teenager, at the hands of extremist Jewish settlers, on July 2. The incident sparked riots in occupied East Jerusalem.
A chain of events followed, including the latest war in Gaza that started on July 8, which left 2,131 Palestinians dead and 10,193 injured, while 71 Israelis were killed, most of them soldiers.
The situation again reached a boiling point on October 8, when clashes outside Al-Aqsa Mosque left more than 20 people injured.
The following week, fresh fighting erupted when hundreds of Israeli police raided the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and clashed with Palestinian worshippers.
Frequent clashes with Israeli police reached a level not seen since the start of the second Intifada in 2000. On October 22, a Palestinian man rammed his car into a crowded Jerusalem train station, killing two Israelis.
Tension has mounted as a result of right-wing Jewish groups’ demand to pray inside the Al-Aqsa compound, and the expansion of Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, has accused Israel of igniting a “religious war” by allowing Jewish worshippers to visit an Islamic holy site in occupied Jerusalem.
Another car-ramming incident took place on November 6 when a Palestinian man drove a vehicle into a group of Israeli soldiers on a road near Hebron in the West Bank, hours after one Israeli was killed and 14 others wounded in a similar attack in Jerusalem.
The killing of a 22-year-old Arab youth by Israeli police in the Galilee town of Kafr Kana on November 7 highlighted tensions that have been building rapidly between Israeli authorities and the country’s 1.5 million Palestinians.
In a provocative move, the Israeli government has stepped up punitive home demolitions, sending notices to families of Palestinian attackers.
On Tuesday, Israeli security forces destroyed the East Jerusalem home of Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi – a Palestinian who carried out a car attack in October – in a move that Palestinians viewed as ‘collective punishment’.