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The Jerusalem Bombings Signal a Bigger Problem for Israel

West Bank lawlessness is a lurking danger for Israel’s incoming far-right government ■ Israel may have caught the worst American disease ■ Iran is betting on the apathy of the international community with its latest nuke move ■ Today's best reads on Haaretz

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
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Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg; Hadas Parush; Jack Guez/ AP. Artwork: Anastasia Shub
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

Israelis woke on Wednesday to a series of terrible headlines. First, there was a story that developed overnight in Jenin, a city at the northern edge of the occupied territories. An 18-year-old Israeli citizen from a Druze village near Haifa was critically injured in a car accident while visiting the city, and his body was kidnapped from the hospital by local gunmen. Thousands of Arab citizens of Israel visit Jenin on a regular basis, despite the security tensions in the city and constant clashes between the Israeli military and armed Palestinian groups. News of the kidnapping raised the prospects of a dangerous escalation.

Shortly after 7 A.M. local time, Jenin suddenly became a secondary concern with preliminary reports of a bombing attack next to a Jerusalem bus station. The sights and sounds from the scene brought back traumatic memories of the second intifada, when explosions rocked Israeli cities on an almost daily basis. We are nowhere near that level of terrorism, but it’s clear that things are heading in a bad direction, specifically in the Jerusalem area, which has seen several deadly attacks in recent weeks.

Haaretz’s Amos Harel noted in an article today that the event in Jenin highlights the weakness of the Palestinian Authority and its failure to maintain law and order in the cities where it has limited control. That’s a crucial point, and a lurking danger for Israel’s incoming government, which includes far right politicians who want to do away with the PA completely. If they get their way, the anarchy in Jenin will be a prelude to a wider crisis in the West Bank.

Then there is Jerusalem. Supposedly the “eternal and united capital” of Israel but in reality a city where entire neighborhoods are themselves anarchy zones with no law, security or order. The Palestinian areas of the city, where residents are not citizens of Israel but also not under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, have become somewhat of a “no man’s land,” and a convenient breeding ground for terror organizations.

It's not yet clear who is behind the attack in Jerusalem, but the deadly bombings are just the latest in a string of violent incidents in the city, which is looking increasingly like the Israeli government’s own Jenin: a neglected backyard that is slipping out of control.

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