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Genocidal threshold looms closer in Jerusalem

Two Palestinians armed with a pistol and axes attacked a synagogue in Jerusalem's Har Nof district during morning prayers on Nov. 18, killing four Israelis. A police officer later died of his wounds. The two assailants were shot dead. (JP, Nov. 19; Ma'an, Nov. 18) Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the attack, but in the same statements reiterated its "demands an end to the ongoing incursions into the al-Aqsa Mosque and the provocative acts by Israeli settlers as well as incitement by some Israeli ministers." Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the PFLP, and the Popular Resistance Committees all praised the attack. (Ma'an, Nov. 18)

Israeli forces have detained 12 relatives of two attackers. At least 17 Palestinians suffered tear gas inhalation and five were injured by rubber-coated steel bullets during clashes following the arrests. Israeli forces used cement blocks to seal the entrance to Jabal al-Mukabbir, the East Jerusalem neighborhood where the attackers lived. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered the demolition of the homes of the two men. (Ma'anJP, Nov. 18) Netanyahu said Israel will "respond harshly" to the "cruel murder of Jews who came to pray and were killed by despicable murderers." Secretary of State John Kerry also spoke out, demanding Palestinian leaders halt "incitement." (Daily News, Nov. 18)

Note that the "respond harshly" comment is an obvious threat of collective punishment—which is routinely inflicted on the Palestinians, but never in Israeli attacks. There has been no move to demolish the homes of the Israelis arrested in the the abduction and killing of Palestinian youth Mohammed Abu Khudair, who was burned alive in an early July attack. As for Kerry, he might (in a purely theoretic sense) consider also scolding the Isreali leadership for "incitement," given the West Bank land confiscations and village demolitions that have taken place since the end of the latest Gaza conflict, and incendiary comments from a cabinet member about destroying al-Aqsa mosque.

Also driving unrest is the death of a Palestinian bus driver, who was found hanged at Har Hotzvim terminal northwest of Jerusalem Nov. 16. Yousuf Hasan al-Ramouni, from al-Tur in East Jerusalem was a driver with Israeli company Egged. When Israeli police said he committed suicide, this sparked further street protests. (Ma'an, Nov. 18; Ma'an, Nov. 17)

Attacks are mounting. Israeli settler shot and seriously injured a Palestinian youth Nov. 18 after a settler demonstration on the outskirts of Beitin village east of Ramallah. Earlier, a Palestinian man was stabbed by a group of Israelis as he was walking in Kafr Aqab, north of Jerusalem. He was hospitalized, and is in a serious condition. (Ma'anMa'an, Nov. 18)

Clashes broke out near Nablus on Nov. 18 after settlers attacked a Palestinian school in the West Bank village of Urif. Israeli soldiers fired tear gas and stun grenades at villagers after they clashed with settlers trying to attack a local school. After news broke of that day's synagogue attack, dozens of settlers gathered along the main road between Nablus and Yizhar settlement, setting off the fighting. (Ma'an, Nov. 19)

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