By Joe Coleman
Israeli authorities report two separate acts of violence in the country; a stabbing in Tel Aviv and a fatal shooting in the West Bank on Thursday. In Tel Aviv, a Palestinian man stabbed and killed two people near the entrance of the Panorama Building. According to a police spokeswoman, the assailant targeted those meeting for afternoon prayers in a store that sells Jewish religious items. After the stabbing occurred, witnesses managed to close the door behind the assailant. The attacker, who is identified as Riad Mahmoud Al-Masalma, was restrained and arrested shortly afterwards.
In the West Bank, a Palestinian man drove along the shoulder of a busy street in the Gush Etzion district and shot indiscriminately at crawling traffic. Three people were killed and seven were wounded. The victims were a Palestinian, an American, and an Israeli citizen. Police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld stated the attacker’s car came to a stop when it hit another vehicle. Authorities quickly pulled the assailant from the vehicle and arrested him.
Al-Masalma, the 36-year-old attacker in the Tel Aviv stabbing, is reportedly a Palestinian from the West Bank town of Dura near Hebron. He received a permit to enter Israel one month ago and had been working at a local Bukharan restaurant. The Shin Bet security service claims he entered Israel to target and kill Jews.
Reuters asserts that the attacks may be related to Palestinian allegations that Israel was trying to undermine the religious status quo at a site considered holy to both Muslims and Jews, the Temple Mount, or alternatively, the Noble Sanctuary. Of course, there are a myriad of deep-cutting historical events that add a level of complexity to the issue that would make a quantum physicist blush.