Synagogue attacks mark new level of escalation as Jerusalem inches closer to breaking point

Synagogue attacks mark new level of escalation as Jerusalem inches closer to breaking point

November 19, 2014
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A Palestinian uses a slingshot to hurl a stone towards Israeli troops during clashes outside Israel's Ofer military prison near the West Bank city of Ramallah February 28, 2013. The death of a Palestinian prisoner in disputed circumstances in an Israeli jail on Saturday, together with a hunger strike by four other Palestinian inmates, have touched off violent protests over the past several weeks outside the prison and in West Bank towns. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman (WEST BANK - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTR3EEIL

The attack at a west Jerusalem synagogue that killed four rabbis and injured several others on Tuesday marked a new level of escalation to the growing tensions that have gripped the city over the last several months.

Within hours of the bloody assault, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered the demolition of the homes of the attackers — two Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem — and arrested a dozen of their relatives. The Abu Ali Mustafa Brigades — the military wing of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine — claims to have been behind the attack on the synagogue.

On Tuesday night, Israeli forces fired tear gas in the West Bank city of Ramallah, where the Palestinian Authority is headquartered, and two Palestinians were severely injured — one shot and another stabbed — in separate retaliatory attacks near that city and in Jerusalem. At least 23 people were arrested as unrest spread across the city, police said.

At the heart of the latest wave of violence is what Palestinians have denounced as an attempt to displace them from the city — physically, through discriminatory housing policies and settlement expansion, and symbolically, through restrictions imposed on Muslims praying at the al-Aqsa Mosque, which sits on one of the world’s most contested pieces of real estate, the Temple Mount or al-Haram al-Sharif.

[keep reading at VICE News]

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