The Israeli military began to stationing soldiers all over the country on Wednesday, implementing the first in a wave of new measures approved by the government’s security cabinet. The cabinet also elected to draft hundreds more security guards to protect public transportation.
Hoping to counter an intensifying string of shootings and stabbings that have left nearly 40 people dead, a police spokeswoman also announced that new security checkpoints were being set up in Jerusalem at the same time.
She said that the checkpoints would be erected at “the exits of Palestinian villages and neighborhoods in East Jerusalem,” where most of the recent attackers came from.
Lone wolf attackers confound police
The current string of violent incidents erupted last month when rumors began circulating that Israel was planning to take over an area encompassing the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, located in Jerusalem’s Old City. Israel has denied any plans to do so, but Palestinians began barricading themselves inside the mosque, throwing rocks and firebombs at the police.
Eight Israelis and 29 Palestinians, 12 of whom have been identified by Israel as attackers, have died in a series of stabbings and shootings that followed the outbreak of violence – causing panic across Israel and confounding the police as most of the attacks appear to be young Palestinians acting independently, unaffiliated with any specific militant group.
On Tuesday, two men boarded a public bus and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant drove a car into a bus stop, then began striking at bystanders with a large knife.
The uptick in violence has sparked concerns that the risk of a third Palestinian uprising could be in the works, as frustrated youths defy calls by both the Israel and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to maintain calm.