Palestinian terror has struck Israel once more. An East Jerusalem gunman entered Yeshivat Harav Kook in West Jerusalem and sprayed gunfire through the Yeshiva’s library hitting a score of students and killing eight before the terrorist was himself killed. Events like this leave one speechless. What can one say? It is simply an act of bestiality.
It seems likely that the rampage will harden attitudes among the Israeli populace and embolden nationalist forced led by Bibi Netanyahu, angling to become the next prime minister. It will also allow the extremist settler movement to wrap itself in the warm embrace of Israeli society which will be mourning the victims. The Yeshiva is considered the spiritual father of the settler movement and holds a sacred spot in settler hearts.
What will also no doubt be lost on Israelis is that this act, heinous as it was, did not arise in a vacuum. Over 100 Gazans were killed last week by the IDF, the majority civilians. The thirst for vengeance among Palestinians must be deep.
Haaretz is reporting that the gunman was from East Jerusalem. If so, this would mark a new tactic for Palestinian militants who’ve usually used suicide bombs as their weapon. Very few previous attacks, to my knowledge, have been carried out by East Jerusalem residents. Recruiting such a person would allow them to circumvent the Separation Wall, which many Israelis and their supporters believe has reduced the number of terror attacks. I wonder how the gunman gained access to the weapons–were they brought from the Territories to him or did they come from within Israel?
I have heard no claim of responsibility from any Palestinians groups, though the N.Y. Times claims that Hamas announced its satisfaction at the attack. Whoever initiated it clearly is eager to derail Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and possibly convey the message that ignoring Hamas is done at Israel’s peril. If the act can be linked to Hamas or any other Gaza-based group, that will probably seal the deal on a major offensive there. The ensuing bloodshed and refugee crisis will undoubtedly destroy any chance to realize George and Condi’s vision of a peace deal before he leaves office.
Barack Obama released a statement of condolence rightly condemning the attack:
“I strongly condemn this cowardly and outrageous attack. The United States must strongly support Israel’s right and capability to defend itself. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families, and with the Israeli people who defeat these terrorists every single day that they go about their daily lives.”
But apparently he feels less broken up about the 100 Gazans killed over the past week as he made no statement at all about them. A case of moral amnesia perhaps?