Palestinians and Israelis have witnessed an increase in violence over the past month, with Palestinian attackers targeting Israeli cities and Israeli forces stepping up raids, shootings and arrests across the illegally occupied West Bank.
The recent surge marks the deadliest wave of violence since 2016.
Keep readinglist of 3 items
What has happened so far?
Four attacks by Palestinians in four Israeli cities have taken place since March 22, killing 14 people, while Israel has increased its raids on Palestinian towns and villages, leading to daily clashes and arrests. Sixteen Palestinians have been killed in the same period, including those who committed the attacks in Israel.
The two most recent attacks in Israel took place in Tel Aviv and Bnei Brak, and were carried out by Palestinians from the occupied West Bank.
No group formally claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the assailant in the Bnei Brak incident was reportedly affiliated with the armed wing of the Fatah political movement, which governs the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority (PA).
The two earlier attacks were carried out by three Palestinians who were allegedly affiliated with ISIL (ISIS).
Why is this happening now?
Palestinians say that the latest outbreak of violence stems from frustration over Israeli policies towards them, and the continued occupation of the Palestinian territories, as well as weak Palestinian leadership.
“These are individual attacks, a pattern that appeared in 2015,” Awad Abdelfattah, a Galilee-based political analyst, told Al Jazeera. “They come as a result of the absence of a popular powerful struggle that the Palestinian leadership is supposed to lead … the alternative at this point is individual attacks that will continue, and will increase at a faster pace than before.”
Palestinians point to that frustration as a root cause for attacks in Israel, while the Israeli government says it has to respond to Palestinian attacks with security operations in the West Bank, leading to more violence.
The latest bloodshed has coincided with the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Last year, violent raids on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, as well as Israeli attempts to force out residents of a Palestinian neighbourhood in occupied East Jerusalem, eventually led to rocket attacks on Israel from the besieged Gaza Strip, and an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza itself. The conflict led to the deaths of at least 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, and 12 Israelis, including two children.
Could the violence escalate further?
If Israeli raids continue in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, then the latest uptick in violence could continue into the coming days and weeks. That is particularly the case if there is violence at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, where Palestinians gather in their thousands every night during Ramadan.
Another Palestinian attack in Israel could also trigger increased raids on the West Bank, as Israeli authorities attempt to show that they are responding to the attacks.
“To me, these confrontations are leading to something that could become a wide-ranging Intifada,” Mustafa Barghouti, the secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, told Al Jazeera.
There is now fear of a new conflict between Hamas and Israel in Gaza. Hamas has called for a Palestinian “general mobilisation” to confront Israeli incursions into the West Bank and the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
“There is the risk of escalation into a wider campaign in Gaza, or some events in Lebanon,” Israeli defence minister Benny Gantz said on Monday.
A rise in attacks by armed Jewish groups, particularly inside Israel, is also a possibility.
Since early last month, armed Jewish groups attacked Palestinians in at least three incidents in the Naqab, hospitalising several.