Israel suffered an attack this Monday that shows the potential for violence to spread due to the war in Gaza. Two Palestinian relatives from a West Bank village, one 44 and the other 25, carried out a pileup with up to three cars in the town of Raanana, north of Tel Aviv, killing an elderly woman and injuring another 19 people, four of them seriously. Eight of the injured are minors. The woman was stabbed after her vehicle was stolen to trigger the attacks. According to Israeli public television, the attackers sent messages to a Telegram group using their cell phones, and in one of them they bragged about having “taken revenge.” Both are arrested.
Police consider it a terrorist attack, a day after the war in Gaza, which has claimed another 60 lives in the last hours (more than 24,000 in total), ended its symbolic 100 days with an uncertain end. Hamas has not claimed this as its own, although it welcomes it as a “response to Israel’s crimes.”
Although there were no multiple fatalities, it is the largest attack in Israel since November 30, when two young Palestinians got out of a car outside a bus stop in Jerusalem and began opening fire. They killed three people in an attack for which Hamas claimed responsibility and which ultimately sparked significant controversy because two soldiers shot and killed the Israeli who had prevented the attackers from escaping as he lay unarmed on his knees with his arms raised. They thought it was one of them.
The attack could affect the fate of tens of thousands of Palestinians. For weeks, the Israeli government has been considering allowing at least some of the tens of thousands of Palestinians who came every day to work in Israel or in the Jewish settlements in the West Bank to re-enter the country. Despite these debates, the executive continues to postpone the vote due to disagreements between ministers. Since the Hamas attack on October 7, their permits have been frozen, leaving many households without resources overnight. These Palestinians make up 22% of the West Bank workforce.
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Israeli contractors (where most of them were employed) are pushing for their return. The intelligence services and the army, albeit under stricter conditions, also see greater destabilizing potential in leaving so many people without income for the time being in an area where violence has escalated than in closing Israel's doors to those again who have recently arrived daily without incident.
The two attackers were identified by security forces as residents of Bani Naim, a village near the West Bank city of Hebron whose residents were killed by Israeli military fire in October and where incidents involving Jewish settlers from Israel have multiplied.
The two Palestinians did not have a work permit or entry permit because they were preemptively expelled by the secret services. They had worked illegally for months at a car wash in the area of the attack – whose owner, an Israeli Jew, was also arrested and interrogated. These types of irregular workers typically traverse gaps or open spaces in the separation wall, which are now much more closely monitored. Others spend the night secretly in Israel.
Although the attack does not fall into the category discussed by the Israeli government, it has strengthened the position of those who oppose the release of the validity of work permits. Ofir Akunis, minister of innovation, science and technology for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party, considers it “new evidence that the return of West Bank workers to their jobs cannot be approved at this time.” In this sense, the head of the National Missions, the right-wing extremist Orit Struck, also focused on the fact that one of them was over 35 years old. It is the age at which border permits are examined, as the majority of young people are typically below that. “[El atentado de Raanana] “It kind of contradicts the criteria they're trying to sell us,” he said wryly on X, the social network formerly called Twitter.
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