The recent upsurge in violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank – including the horrific killings of Eitam and Naama Henkin last Thursday and Nehemia Lavi and Aharon Bennett on Saturday – has prompted questions regarding whether Israel is on the brink of a third intifada.
In a series of penetrating analyses over the last week, Haaretz columnists have put the turmoil in its political and military contexts and hazarded guesses about the future. Here are five must-read columns explaining the current unrest and what it means.
The violent events of the past few weeks conform with what the security establishment has long been calling 'individual terror' or 'popular terror' attacks, writes Anshel Pfeffer. They don't yet exhibit the generalized intent that characterized the previous two intifadas, but that could change quickly. It could take "just one more death, on either side, for all hell to break loose."
Amira Hass also believes that the Palestinians are not contemplating a new intifada. The Palestinian security forces are trying hard to improve their reputation and at times have allowed Palestinian youth to approach Israeli soldiers to let off steam – not to escalate the situation. Fatah, she adds, is too weak to conduct an intifada and there are clear signs that the Palestinian population is not yet ready for another blood-letting.
Chaim Levinson examines the phenomenon of what he calls Israel's "New Right" – the masses who "want blood in the streets and 'Death to the Arabs' in Zion Square." They sense that Jews are being humiliated on the Temple Mount and have pushed aside the settler pioneers of the right in favor of "an immediate and violent solution."
"It seems clear that the violence in Jerusalem will continue [and] we Israelis, like the Palestinians, will have to adapt to it," writes Nir Hasson, a veteran observer of events in the capital. The closure of the Old City to Palestinian nonresidents after the stabbings on Saturday, he says, was "disturbing and painful proof to anyone who thinks that Jerusalem is a normal city that it is only an illusion."
Amos Harel looks at the how Israel's leadership has handled the unrest, arguing that the steps announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – increased forces, more administrative detention and home demolitions – were "old goods that Netanyahu is once again hawking to the public." The prime minister is hoping that they "will be enough to gradually calm the mood," he adds, but he faces pressure for more drastic action from his coalition allies and the settlers.