Palestinians Kill 5, Including American Teen Ezra Schwartz, in Latest Israel Attacks
An American teenager was among five people killed on Thursday in Palestinian shooting stabbing, and vehicular attacks in Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Haaretz reports three people were killed and five more wounded in a shooting and car ramming attack in the Gush Etzion region of the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian attacker, who was armed with an Uzi submachinegun, opened fire on vehicles traveling near the Alon Shvut settlement at around 4:35 p.m. on Thursday. An American student, identified by Yeshiva World News as 18-year-old Ezra Schwartz, 51-year-old Alon Shvut resident Yaacov Don and a Palestinian bystander, 24-year-old Shadi Arafa of Hebron, were killed in the attack.
The Associated Press reports a knife-wielding Palestinian stabbed to death two Israelis as they gathered with others for afternoon prayer in an office building in Tel Aviv. Witness Shimon Vaknin told reporters he saw a bloodied man stumble into the prayer room.
“He was all slashed and bloody. We were in shock,” Vaknin said. “We didn’t know what happened and then someone near the door shouted: ‘there’s a terrorist.'”
Vaknin described a tense standoff, with worshippers pushing against the door as the assailant, identified as a 36-year-old Palestinian father of five from the occupied West Bank village of Dura, tried to force his way in. The attacker was subdued and apprehended by onlookers.
Thursday’s violence brings the number of Israelis killed in the most recent wave of Palestinian violence, which began escalating in October, largely over increasing visits by Jews to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound—one of the holiest sites in Islam and Judaism (where it is known as the Temple Mount), to 19. Israeli countermeasures have killed at least 78 Palestinians.
Palestinian violence is largely rooted in the expulsion, sometimes through horrific violence, of some 700,000 Arabs by Jews establishing the state of Israel in 1948. Another 200,000 Arabs were expelled when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank, Gaza, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights in 1967. These refugees and their descendants now number around 5 million, while nearly another 5 million Palestinians have been living under humiliating and economically punishing Israeli military occupation for nearly half a century.
Critics, including some Israelis, accuse Israel of practicing ethnic cleansing and apartheid in Palestine, pointing to the continuing expansion of Jewish-only settler colonies throughout the occupied territories and concurrent expulsion of Palestinian people, theft of Palestinian land and destruction of Palestinian homes as the cause of anti-Israeli terrorism.
Under international law, both the Israeli occupation and settlements are illegal, but Israel refutes this. Many Israelis believe that ‘God’ promised them, as ‘His’ ‘chosen people,’ all of Palestine, which was the site of ancient Jewish kingdoms. But from biblical times until the early 20th century, Jews never numbered more than 10 percent of the population of the territory that would become the modern Jewish state of Israel.