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Israel's Bloody Spring - Chronicles of Terror II

Painted by Ian Lauterbach In his series “Traces of Terror” reports on the lives and stories of the victims of the last terrorist attacks in Israel and provides information about the situation on site. More than 10 people die in terrorist attacks within the first ten weeks of the year. There are battles between Islamic militias and the Israeli army in the West Bank almost every day, and sirens regularly sound in cities in the south of the country and people flock to the bunkers when rockets are fired from the Gaza Strip again. There are all over the country Massive protests against the right-wing government under Prime Minister Netanyahu. Peace in the Middle East seems impossible, that is the consensus on the streets.

The victims of the attack in Jerusalem. Source: IDF, edited by the author.

Friday, 27.01.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX
A lukewarm wind blows through the quiet streets of Neve Yaakov, a small Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem. Around 20 residents live here, mainly Orthodox Jews. A variety of kosher shops, restaurants, a community center and several schools and synagogues are lined up along the many small streets. It's a peaceful Friday evening, Shabbat, and most people on the streets are walking. The clock strikes 000:08 and suddenly gunshots shatter the calm and peace of the evening.
Suddenly chaos reigns as people run for cover and try to escape the shooter's bullets.

For those present, the next few minutes seemed like they were in slow motion, the survivors later reported. A young Palestinian opens fire on passers-by with a pistol from a moving car. Before the car has even come to a complete stop, fatal shots hit Irina Kolkova, a 56-year-old Ukrainian who worked as a nurse in Israel.
Shortly afterwards, fatal shots hit 68-year-old Shaul Hai, who was on his way to a nearby synagogue. The young perpetrator leaves his car and then continues to shoot randomly at the fleeing passers-by in front of the synagogue.

Eli Mizrahi (48 years old) and his wife Natali (46) are having dinner with Eli's father Shimon when the sound of gunfire suddenly echoes through the neighborhood as the attacker continues his deadly attack. The two jump up to help the wounded, Eli Mizrahi tries to stop the shooter, speaks to him directly, delays the attacks at least for a short time, and gives at least a small chance for passers-by to hide or escape. Two more shots echo through the street and Eli's father has to watch as his son and daughter-in-law are shot by the gunman. The two were only married for two years. Even before the first ambulances and the police arrive at the scene, the shooter flees the scene in his car, is caught by the police a short time later and then dies in a firefight, after which he opens fire on a police officer.

The closest is the sad result: 7 dead and 3 seriously injured, the worst attack in Israel in more than a decade. One of them is still in a coma today. On the same day, police chief Shabtai described the attack as “one of the worst attacks Israel has experienced in years.” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also speaks of “one of the worst attacks we have seen in years”. Messages of condolence are coming from all over the world; the British ambassador to Israel, Neil Wigan, addressed the whole world on Twitter immediately after the attacks. “I am horrified by the reports of the horrific attack in Neve Yaakov this evening. An attack on worshipers in a synagogue on Erev Shabat is a particularly horrific terrorist attack. The UK stands with Israel.” The French embassy in Israel tweeted that the incident was “all the more despicable because it was committed on this day of international remembrance of the Holocaust.”

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres also condemned Friday's deadly attack, his spokesman said. “It is particularly despicable that the attack took place in a place of worship, on the very day we celebrate International Holocaust Remembrance Day,” he said. On the Palestinian side, the reaction couldn't be more reversed as news of the massacre spread rapidly. Cheers and fireworks erupt in the cities of Nablus and Jenin, and militias distribute sweets on the streets here and in Gaza City in the Gaza Strip to celebrate the work of their “martyr.” In order to avoid giving the perpetrator even more undeserved media exposure, I am keeping the facts I share about him to a minimum. At almost 21 years old, he joins the endless line of young people who die in a conflict that began long before they were born. Radicalized by their living situation, caught in a spiral of violence.

People who deserve more media coverage are Eli and Natali Mizrahi, who themselves became victims of the perpetrator in their attempt to stop the impact and help the injured. Their selflessness and courage in the face of such a terrible event impresses me too deeply. Eli Mizrahi was a devoted family man who was known in the community for his kindness and generosity. The tragic deaths of him, his wife and everyone else who died in the shooting has hit the community hard and they will remember the tragic events for the rest of their lives.

Friday, 10.02.2023/XNUMX/XNUMX
Ramoth, Jerusalem.
Two weeks later.

On a cold and rainy Friday afternoon in Jerusalem, traffic is chaos as vehicles pile up just before Shabbat begins. Amid the hustle and bustle, a small group of people huddle at a bus stop in the Ramon district. The group includes two young brothers, Yaakov Israel Pally, 6, and Asher Menachem Pally, 8, as well as 20-year-old A. Shlomo Laderman, who recently married.

It is still unclear where the group was heading or what they were thinking when the car suddenly drove towards them, killing three innocent people. The attack in East Jerusalem, which injured at least five other people, was carried out by 31-year-old Hussein Qaraqa, an Israeli citizen who lived in the Issawiya neighborhood. Qaraqa was shot dead by a police officer at the scene. After the incident, it was discovered that Qaraqa announced attacks on Israeli soldiers and civilians on his Facebook page. It was also revealed that he had been released from a psychiatric hospital in northern Israel just a few days earlier.

Because the attack occurred shortly before the start of Shabbat, the victims were buried that same day in accordance with Jewish law. The two brothers were buried side by side in one of Jerusalem's cemeteries, leaving behind grieving families and the newly married wife of Shlomo Laderman.

Yael Goldberg, a Jerusalem resident, expressed her condolences to the victims and their families while speaking to BSN: “It is heartbreaking to think that innocent people lost their lives in such a senseless act of violence. My condolences go out to the families of the victims.” Her words reflect the feelings of many people in the community who are devastated by the attack on their city.

As this wave of terror spreads through Jerusalem and throughout Israel, fighting between the Israeli army and Palestinian militias begins again in the West Bank. Civilians often die in the crossfire. While the Israeli army arrested suspects in Nablus, the narrow streets of Nablus became a battlefield between the various militias and the Israeli army. As people scrambled to safety, tear gas and sound bombs filled the air, causing chaos and confusion.
With more than 60 Palestinians killed in battles with the Israeli army since the start of the year, including 11 minors, one woman and two elderly men, the death toll from the ongoing conflict continues to rise.

Demonstration in Jerusalem.

As protests continue across the country (BSN reported here), another attack recently shook the country. Along Tel Aviv's main artery, Dizengoff Street, where thousands are streaming into bars and cafes on this lukewarm Thursday evening, a young man opens fire. 3 people are injured, some seriously. Like in 2022 is the man Hamas sympathizer who was smuggled through the border.
As the situation in the country becomes more and more tense day by day, week by week, and Ramadan, which often serves as a catalyst for violence, begins on March 22nd, many fear a repeat of the events of 2021, where over 11 rockets were fired within 4000 days Israel fired, creating enormous pressure on the Iron Dome defense system and the region. 290 people died on both sides in the conflict. Almost two years later, that scar has never healed properly.

Only time alone knows what will happen next. Peace will take decades, that's for sure.

Thanks to F. Bork and W. Jawich for help with research and corrections.