A series of deadly attacks has left Israel in shock. Now, the country appears to be inching closer to another military confrontation with Palestinian armed factions.
The attacks began on March 22, when a Palestinian man, allegedly affiliated with ISIS, stabbed three people to death and run over a fourth killing him in the southern city of Beersheba. The man was shot and killed by an armed civilian.
On March 27, a second attack took place in the northern town of Hadera. Two Palestinian gunmen shot and killed two Israeli police officers. Both gunmen were gunned down by undercover police officers. ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack. The Amaq news agency shared a photo allegedly showing the two perpetrators embracing in front of an ISIS flag before the attack.
In the wake of the attacks, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) deployed four additional battalions to the Western Bank to tighten security.
Despite the IDF measures, on March 29 a third attack took place in the central Israeli city of Bnei Brak. A Palestinian gunman shooting four people to death, before being killed by two police officers. One of the officers sustained serious wounds during the clashes with the gunman and was later pronounced dead.
Ultimately, the strict security measures in the West Bank led to tensions with the Palestinians in the occupied region.
On March 31, a commando force of the IDF raided the city of Jenin in the West Bank, setting off a skirmish in which two Palestinians were killed and 15 others were wounded. The Israeli media claimed that the violent raid targeted several Palestinian individuals suspected of planning attacks in Israel, as well as some thought to be tied to the Bnei Brak shooting attack.
The IDF said that the raid was a part of a large-scale operation codenamed “Break Water”. At least 31 suspects were arrested in the course of the operation.
On the very same day, a Palestinian stabbed an Israeli man on a bus in the settlement of Neve Daniel in the West Bank before being killed by a bystander. The man was seriously wounded as a result of the attack.
Palestinian factions threatened Israel following the deadly raid in Jenin. The Palestinian Islamic Jihad leader Ziyad al-Nakhaleh called for the group’s armed wing to be put on “high alert.” From its side, the Hamas Movement threatened to meet “escalation with escalation” and warned of a “comprehensive explosion.”
Following the Palestinian threats, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed an order issuing the call up of 300 reservist Border Police officers.
Tensions between Israel and the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank could soon spread to the Gaza Strip. Despite this risk, Tel Aviv does not appear to be planning to tone down its security operations in Palestinian areas.
Israeli officials have already warned of more attacks during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, which is set to begin on April 2. Israeli authorities will scale up their security operations in the West Bank even further during the month. More protests, confrontations and even attacks are to be expected.