The Significance of the Recent Terrorist Attack in Jerusalem

On Sunday, a gun-wielding Palestinian opened fired at a bus in Jerusalem not far from the Western Wall, injuring eight—including five Americans. Nadav Shragai comments on the attack’s significance:

An attack near the Western Wall is a strategic one that endangers not only the lives of Jewish citizens and worshippers but the very Jewish presence in the Old City.

Every year, about 10 million Jews visit the holy site, which can be accessed through three points: David Street (through the market), Hagai Street (through the Musrara neighborhood and Damascus Gate), and public transport that passes through Dung Gate, which is where the shooting occurred. A terror attack near the Western Wall was intended to undermine the Jewish presence in the Old City. As such, the response must be strategic.

In recent years, Jerusalem, the Temple Mount, and the Western Wall have been used to unite Arab Israelis and Arabs in the West Bank, Gaza, and east Jerusalem for a common goal: to push the Jews out of Jerusalem, its holy sites, and Israel in general. Sometimes it is done through organized terrorism. Other times, it’s lone terrorists. The method might change, but not the goal.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Israeli Security, Jerusalem, Palestinian terror, Temple Mount

Why Arab Jerusalem Has Stayed Quiet

One of Hamas’s most notable failures since October 7 is that it has not succeeded in inspiring a violent uprising either among the Palestinians of the West Bank or the Arab citizens of Israel. The latter seem horrified by Hamas’s actions and tend to sympathize with their own country. In the former case, quiet has been maintained by the IDF and Shin Bet, which have carried out a steady stream of arrests, raids, and even airstrikes.

But there is a third category of Arab living in Israel, namely the Arabs of Jerusalem, whose intermediate legal status gives them access to Israeli social services and the right to vote in municipal elections. They may also apply for Israeli citizenship if they so desire, although most do not.

On Wednesday, off-duty Israeli soldiers in the Old City of Jerusalem shot at a Palestinian who, it seems, was attempting to attack them. But this incident is a rare exception to the quiet that has prevailed in Arab Jerusalem since the war began. Eytan Laub asked a friend in an Arab neighborhood why:

Listen, he said, we . . . have much to lose. We already fear that any confrontation would have consequences. Making trouble may put our residence rights at risk. Furthermore, he added, not a few in the neighborhood, including his own family, have applied for Israeli citizenship and participating in disturbances would hardly help with that.

Such an attitude reflects a general trend since the end of the second intifada:

In recent years, the numbers of [Arab] Jerusalemites applying for Israeli citizenship has risen, as the social stigma of becoming Israeli has begun to erode and despite an Israeli naturalization process that can take years and result in denial (because of the requirement to show Jerusalem residence or the need to pass a Hebrew language test). The number of east Jerusalemites granted citizenship has also risen, from 827 in 2009 to over 1,600 in 2020.

Oddly enough, Laub goes on to argue, the construction of the West Bank separation fence in the early 2000s, which cuts through the Arab-majority parts of Jerusalem, has helped to encouraged better relations.

Read more at Jerusalem Strategic Tribune

More about: East Jerusalem, Israeli Arabs, Jerusalem