The Domino Effect and International Response
On January 26, the Israeli forces killed nine Palestinians and wounded several others in the West Bank city of Jenin, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, prompting the Palestinian Authority to suspend security coordination with Israel. A tenth Palestinian was killed that day in what Israel Police called a “violent disturbance” near Jerusalem.
Overnight, on January 27 morning local time, Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza strip after rockets were fired towards Israel. The Israeli military claimed it was a counterterrorism operation. This is another episode of spiralling violence in the region.
Thus, the shooting in the Neve Yaakov neighbourhood of east Jerusalem came even as international calls for calm mounted after Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip traded missile fire.
There was no initial claim of responsibility for the synagogue attack, which took place as worshippers attended Sabbath services on International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
However, Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said, “This operation is a response to the crime conducted by the occupation in Jenin and a natural response to the occupation criminal actions.” Islamic terror outfit, Hamas, celebrated the death of Jews, and even civilians were seen cheering with fireworks in the Gaza strip and other disputed territories.
Even the smaller militant group Islamic Jihad also praised the attack without claiming responsibility.
Several reported that at several locations across the Gaza Strip, dozens of Palestinians gathered in spontaneous demonstrations to celebrate the Jerusalem attack, with some coming out of dessert shops with large trays of sweets to distribute.
The shooting also came days before a planned visit by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to Israel and the West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu urged people, “I call on the people not to take the law into their own hands. For that purpose we have an army, police and security forces. They act and will act according to the cabinet instructions.”
Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir visited the scene of the attack on Friday evening (January 27), told people who were chanting angrily that “it cannot continue like this.”
Ben Gvir, who also leads the far-right Jewish Power party, said, “I can tell you, [the people chanting] you are right. The burden is on us. It cannot continue like this.”
Meanwhile, Israeli allies around the world condemned a Palestinian terror attack and showed solidarity towards Israel. They also called for de-escalation over the West bank violence.
US President Joe Biden held a call with the Israeli prime minister on Friday night in which he called the killings an “attack against the civilised world” and offered support to Israel. Biden also “stressed the ironclad US commitment to Israel’s security”, the White House said in a statement.
In a statement, the US State Department spokesman Vedant Patel said, “This is absolutely horrific. We condemn this apparent terrorist attack in the strongest terms. Our commitment to Israel’s security remains ironclad, and we are in direct touch with our Israeli partners.”
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres strongly condemned the terrorist attack by a Palestinian man outside a synagogue in a Jerusalem neighbourhood.
The UAE Foreign Ministry also condemned the “criminal” attack and expressed its rejection of
all forms of violence.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said: “To attack worshippers at a synagogue on Holocaust Memorial Day, and during Shabbat, is horrific. We stand with our Israeli friends.”
Several other countries of the European Union have also expressed their support and condemned violence in Israel.
The recurring and unfortunate bloodbath in the region has left a blot on the international community for not being able to restore peace and stability in the region when we all talk about peacebuilding and reconciliation.
Months of violence in the West Bank have heightened concerns about the already unpredictable conflict. The unfolding of the volatile situation in the region has kept both Israel and Palestine on edge and alert.