Violence continued on Saturday in Jerusalem as an attacker shot and injured two Israelis near a settlement in East Jerusalem, the morning after a Palestinian assailant killed seven people outside a synagogue elsewhere in the city.
Both victims on Saturday were taken to a hospital and were described by medics as being in a serious but not critical condition. And the assailant — a 13-year-old boy — was shot and injured by two passers-by, according to a police statement.
The attack underscored the fragility of the situation in Israel and the occupied territories, which has left at least 20 Israelis and Palestinians dead in less than a week and has prompted many on either side of the conflict to fear a possible greater conflagration.
The combination of several overlapping dynamics — a new hard-right Israeli government that has promised to take a stronger stance against Palestinians; rising anger and militancy from a new generation of Palestinians; an escalating Israeli military campaign in Palestinian areas; and the Palestinian leadership’s decision this week to sever security coordination with Israeli counterparts — threatens to accelerate a cycle of violence and undermine efforts to calm tensions.
The attack on Saturday morning occurred in a mainly Palestinian district of East Jerusalem, a few hundred yards south of some of the holiest sites in the Old City.
The area was captured by Israel from Jordan in 1967 and later annexed, and is still considered occupied territory by most of the world. Tensions have surged in the neighborhood in recent decades after Israeli settlers began to move there in greater numbers and seek the eviction of Palestinian residents.
Elsewhere in East Jerusalem on Saturday, the police said they had arrested 42 people connected to the Palestinian assailant in the attack on Friday night outside a synagogue at an Israeli settlement.
The police also said they had increased their presence in the streets of Jerusalem after the attacks this past week, while the Israeli Defense Ministry said it was scaling up efforts to protect Israeli settlements and roads in the West Bank.
The Israeli prison service said that it had placed dozens of Palestinian prisoners in solitary confinement after they celebrated the attack outside the synagogue.
The situation in Israel and the occupied territories was already tense before the current government entered office in late December during the deadliest year for Palestinians in the West Bank since 2005.
But tensions have further escalated throughout January, with more than 30 Palestinians killed this month, mostly during Israeli operations to arrest Palestinian militants.
Nine Palestinians were killed in a raid on Thursday, the deadliest such incident in at least half a decade, leading the Palestinian Authority, the body that administers parts of the Israeli-occupied West Bank, to announce it was suspending its coordination with the Israeli security services in protest.
If fully enacted, the move would halt most contact between the Israeli and Palestinian intelligence and military services, making it easier for both armed Palestinian groups and violent Israeli settlers to act unimpeded.
Carol Sutherland contributed reporting from Moshav Ben Ami, Israel.