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Jerusalem: Summer of violence bleeds into fall

The latest deadly attack underscores the recent uptick in violence across the city, revered by many for its holy sites.

Brooklyn Middleton

Published: Updated:

After a summer of violence in Israel and Palestine that saw the brutal and senseless murder of four teenagers, there is a new victim of terrorism in the fall: three-month-old baby girl Chaya Zissel Braun.

During early evening hours local time on October 22, 21-year-old Hamas supporter Abdel Rahman Al-Shaludi plowed his vehicle into a crowd of people waiting at a light rail station in Jerusalem, killing Chaya and injuring eight others. The grandfather of the baby girl told local media that her parents waited, “many years” for her birth; in the end, they only had her for 12 weeks.

The suspect was shot on the scene and later died of his injuries. Al-Shuladi was from the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan and was reportedly the nephew of a senior Hamas military official who died in the late 1990s. Al-Shuladi also had a known record of security-related offenses; he was only released from an Israeli prison ten months prior to the attack.

It is relevant to determine whether the terrorist was acting in a lone-wolf manner or whether the assault was coordinated by a group’s central command

Brooklyn Middleton

The latest deadly attack underscores the recent uptick in violence across the city, revered by many for its holy sites.

It is also the latest reminder – despite denials from Israeli security officials – that Jerusalem remains on the brink of violent chaos tantamount to intifada levels.

Violent clashes

Only hours after the attack, subsequent rioting erupted across East Jerusalem with Palestinians and Israeli security forces clashing violently. Meanwhile, adding gasoline to a raging fire, Hamas leaders quickly praised the attack, reportedly calling it a “daring operation” that is a “natural response... to extreme settlers.” The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), unsurprisingly, also called the attack “natural,” and indicated it was the latest reminder that Israel can never “break the resistance.”

Fatah, not to be left out of glorifying the atrocity, released a statement on one of their Facebook pages, according to Times of Israel, noting that, “The Silwan branch of Fatah honors the heroic martyr Abdel Rahman al-Shaludi, who executed the Jerusalem operation which led to the running over of settlers in the occupied city of Jerusalem.” In light of this statement, it is even more necessary that President Abbas condemn the attack in the same manner he condemned the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli teenagers during the summer. Meanwhile, in a statement likely to enrage, at least one right wing Israeli politician vowed to build more settlements, stating defiantly “when there’s terror we build more.”

In regard to security matters, it is relevant to determine whether the terrorist was acting in a lone-wolf manner - on deep sympathies for militant attacks against civilians - or whether the assault was coordinated by a group’s central command. That said, regardless of the level of involvement of Hamas or Fatah it is worth noting both factions’, by glorifying the incident, are complicit.

On a different front, a tenuous calm has remained between Israel and Gaza since Egypt brokered a ceasefire in late August. But if Jerusalem continues to see a rise in attacks and unrest, it is likely the ceasefire talks between Israel and Hamas slated to take place next week in Cairo will fall apart.

Moreover, the fragility of the ceasefire agreement was always known; the only thing truly agreed upon was that all militant factions as well as the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) would halt their attacks. According to the initial ceasefire agreement, both sides’ core demands would be addressed at a later date. With the deadly attack and subsequent glorification, the later date is likely to only keep getting later.

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Brooklyn Middleton is an American Political and Security Risk Analyst reporting from Israel. Her work has appeared in Turkish and Israeli publications including The Times of Israel and Hürriyet Daily News. She has previously written about U.S. President Obama's policy in Syria as well as the emerging geopolitical threats Israel faces as it pursues its energy interests in the Eastern Mediterranean. She is currently researching Ayatollah Khomeini’s influence on Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant groups to complete her MA in Middle Eastern Studies. You can follow her on Twitter here: @BklynMiddleton.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not reflect Al Arabiya English's point-of-view.