Musbah Abu Sbaih, 39, fired on civilians and military, killing a policeman and a 60-year-old woman. For activist Adel Misk, resentment against the policy of occupation is growing. A climate of "growing pressure" is sparking "explosions of violence". Political problems do not concern religion.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – Israel’s policy of occupation, which the current Israeli government is boosting, is behind the “growing frustration” among Palestinians. It is this that has led to yesterday’s attack in Jerusalem that left three people dead, the attacker and his two victims, this according to Adel Misk, a Palestinian doctor and peace activist.
Speaking to AsiaNews about the latest episode in a long trail of blood linked to the third intifada, the knife Intifada that began a year ago, the spokesman of The Parents Circle – an association that has brought together some 250 Israelis and 250 Palestinians, all families of the victims of the conflict – noted a "climate of growing pressure" that is fuelling such "explosions of violence."
Yesterday two Israelis – Levana Malihi, 60, and a policeman, Yosef Kirma – died shortly after being admitted to hospital. Both were gunned down by a 39-year-old Palestinian, Musbah Abu Sbaih, who was eulogised today by some Hamas members as a "Lion" and "martyr" in the struggle against the occupation. Five other people were injured, some seriously.
According to witness accounts, the attacker got out of a white car parked in front of a Light Rail stop at Ammunition Hill Memorial Site, which commemorates the "Battle for Jerusalem" in the Six-Day War, and opened fire. After he went back to his car, he headed for Shimon HaTzadik station, where he fired a second time into a crowd.
When Israeli security forces intervened, they killed him after a brief shootout. Two agents were wounded in the crossfire.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum called the attack “a natural reaction to the crimes and violations of the occupation against our people”, especially with regards to Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa mosque.
Musbah Abu Sbaih was from East Jerusalem and, in a pre-recorded message broadcast al-Aqsa TV after his death, he urged all Muslims to follow his example. A leaflet distributed by Hamas in the West Bank describes him as "the lion of Jerusalem" for its commitment to the defense of al-Aqsa mosque.
The attacker was "a 39-year-old man who lived in East Jerusalem, had a family and attended the al-Aqsa mosque" Adel Misk told AsiaNews. "In the past, he had been stopped and pushed away from the mosque for so-called anti-Israeli activities. Recently, he had been sentenced to four months in prison and yesterday he was he was due to begin a four-month prison term on Sunday.”
Such incidents are due to a "climate of pressure" that reigns in the territories, feeding the "radicalisation of people like Musbah Abu Sbaih, who was religious but certainly not a fanatic," Dr Misk said.
“Pressure, occupation, and resentment create an explosive mix that degenerates in attacks against Israeli military and civilian targets.” Indeed, “Israeli authorities have already started to retaliate against the family" by blowing up the home, expulsion and new arrests.
“Police stopped the attacker’s daughter, because this morning, in an interview, she spoke well about her father. It is an ongoing cycle, rooted in a military occupation that generates discontent."
Starting in October 2015, after a series of provocations by ultra-Orthodox Jews who prayed on Temple Mount, unrest spread in Israel and the Palestinian territories, in what became known as the ‘knife intifada’.
So far, 237 Palestinians, 35 Israelis, two Americans, a Sudanese and an Eritrean have died in the violence. Most of the Palestinians died tried to stab, fire at or drive cars against pedestrians and soldiers. Some were killed during demonstrations or clashes with the military.
Despite the violence, the Palestinian doctor and activist wants people from the West and believers from around the world to come to the Holy Land as pilgrims or visitors.
"You should come without fear,” he said, “because pilgrims have always been welcome and have never experienced violence. These acts are tied to frustration, discontent, and political issues that have nothing to do with religion.
“We hope,” he said, “that the situation does not degenerate.” Hence, “let us pray together that these things do not happen again, that the Palestinian people may be granted the right to live in its own land".