JERUSALEM (Jul. 6)
After three months of relative calm, Israelis fear they could be facing a renewed wave of Palestinian attacks.
Since the army sealed off the West Bank and Gaza Strip from Israel proper in late March, there have been few Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians. But in the last week, there have been a string of violent incidents that left two Israelis dead and others injured.
In the latest attack, a Palestinian from the West Bank city of Nablus tried Tuesday to stab an Israeli soldier at the Allenby Bridge crossing from Jordan.
The Palestinian assailant, who had just returned from Jordan, was overcome by other soldiers at the border terminal before he could hurt anyone.
The stabbing attempt came on the heels of two other more serious attacks in Jerusalem, and Israeli officials said further attacks were likely as Palestinian opponents of the peace process try to sabotage the talks.
Last Thursday, three terrorists boarded a crowded city bus in Jerusalem, fatally shooting one woman, Olga Chaikov, 42, and lightly wounding the bus driver, Dudi Yom-Tov, who tried to disarm one of the attackers.
Two of the terrorists then fled and commandeered an Israeli car, forcing at gunpoint a civilian driver, Jeanette Kadosh Dayan, 39, to drive them out of the city.
All three died in a hail of bullets when the car refused orders by border police to stop at a military checkpoint. Security personnel claimed Dayan was shot first by the Palestinians.
On Monday, a stabbing attack left Batsheva Hillel hospitalized with moderate wounds. She was attacked near Mishkenot Sha’ananim, on a hill overlooking the Old City of Jerusalem.
Police were still holding four Arabs suspected of having been involved in the attack.
ATTACKS EXPECTED TO CONTINUE
Both Jerusalem attacks took place in areas between Jewish and Arab sections of Jerusalem. Observers have suggested there may be a link to the fact that Jerusalem’s status has emerged as a major sticking point in the peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.
Police Minister Moshe Shahal said Tuesday that as a result of the latest terrorist attacks, police have reinforced their presence in Jerusalem and added an extra helicopter to watch the capital from the skies.
Housing Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said he had no doubt that terrorism would increase as the peace talks progress.
Security experts expect the wave of Arab terrorism to increase with the arrival later this week of U.S. diplomat Dennis Ross, the Clinton administration’s coordinator of the peace talks.
Israeli opposition groups are also expected to turn up the heat during the visit by Ross.
Opposition parties have decided to organize joint demonstrations against the government during the Ross visit, in an effort to repeat the massive demonstrations staged against Secretary of State Henry Kissinger during the Sinai disengagement talks of 1975-1976.
A right-wing group called the Terror Victims Association held an hour-long meeting this week with Molly Williamson, U.S. consul general in Jerusalem, who serves as a de facto ambassador to Palestinians in the territories.
The group handed a letter to Williamson urging the United States not to reopen its dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization or any other terrorist group. Among those signing the letter was Hillel, the victim of Monday’s stabbing attack.