Palestinian rioters and terrorists escalated the renewed intifada in recent days throughout Gaza and Judea/Samaria, including Jerusalem, in a move meant to â€œtestâ€ Israeli Prime Minister-elect Ariel Sharon even before he formally assumes office.
An Israeli motorist, Tzahi Sasson, a 35-year-old father of two from Kibbutz Rosh Tzurim in Gush Etzion, was murdered Sunday night, as he drove on the bridge span that joins the two Gush Etzion road tunnels. After Palestinian gunmen in Beit Jalla opened fire at his vehicle, Sasson lost control and, according to initial reports, crashed into another car, lightly injuring three civilians. Palestinians continued shooting at the bridge even as a Magen David Adom crew treated the injured. The crew succeeded in transferring Sasson to hospital, where he died of his wounds.
Shortly before the fatal shooting, Palestinians in Beit Jalla fired into Jerusalem's southern Gilo neighborhood, after a break of several weeks, causing damage to an apartment building and several cars. Soldiers returned fire.
The Tunnel Road, which connects Jerusalem to Gush Etzion, has been the scene of numerous violent attacks by Palestinians on Israeli drivers in recent months. On Monday, the IDF took extra precautions following Sunday nightâ€™s murder. Palestinians from the village of El Khader south of Bethlehem continued to stone Israeli vehicles traveling on the road.
During todayâ€™s clashes, a Palestinian from the village of Artas was shot and killed by IDF forces and a companion seriously wounded near the checkpoint at the entrance to the Tunnel Road, according to Palestinian reports.
Meanwhile, additional heavy gun battles ensued in the Bethlehem area for the second consecutive night, again ending a period of relative quiet, after Palestinians shot at soldiers guarding Rachel's Tomb and the District Coordinating Office.
And near Ramallah today, Atef Ahmed Anablusi, a resident of eastern Jerusalem, was shot and killed and another man seriously wounded when IDF soldiers opened fire on a vehicle trying to evade an army roadblock outside the village of Rafah. The area was the scene of a several hour-long gun battle between IDF and Palestinian forces.
Also, the community of Psagot has again come under fire several times since Friday, when Palestinian gunmen shot sporadically at the besieged settlement for close to three hours that evening. Friday afternoon, there also were heavy exchanges of gunfire at the Ayosh junction north of Ramallah, after hundreds of demonstrators hurled rocks and firebombs at soldiers and then shot at them.
In Jerusalemâ€™s Old City, Israeli border police today fired four shots in the air to disperse a mob of some 100 Palestinians who had tried to prevent the arrest of an Arab in the Muslim Quarter.
Meantime down in Gaza, the violence escalated with 20 shooting incidents Friday and seven Saturday. Grenades were thrown Saturday at the IDF in several positions, and a number of bombs were planted Sunday and Monday.
Palestinians fired a mortar shell at Netzarim Saturday night, the second time in a little over a week. The shell hit near the community's hothouses, but no one was wounded. IDF sources suspect Hizbâ€™Allah was somehow involved in the mortar attack.
On Sunday, a soldier suffered a bullet wound to the hand after Palestinians shot at an IDF unit near the Gush Katif community of Tel Katifa. Palestinians also shot at IDF positions at Neveh Dekalim's industrial site, and at Gadid.
Early Sunday morning, a bomb exploded next to an IDF vehicle not far from Kfar Darom, but no one was hurt. The explosion was close to the site of a recent terror bombing of against a Jewish school bus.
On Monday, Palestinians detonated a roadside charge alongside an IDF patrol traveling near the Gaza settlement of Morag. No soldiers were injured in the blast. A firefight ensued between army and Palestinian forces that laid the device. IDF forces discovered two more bombs near the settlement, successfully defusing them.
Palestinian sniping pinned down several Israeli firefighters at a fire station near Neveh Dekalim. The gunmen shot at an Army outpost and an empty Israeli bus as well. According to media reports, the shooting came from neighboring Khan Yunis.
Despite these attacks, Israel allowed the Palestinian Authority to reopen the Gaza airport Monday. The airport will be open for one week during daylight hours only. The step was taken to allow Muslim pilgrims to travel to Mecca, Saudi Arabia, in order to take part in the annual 'Haj' religious pilgrimage.
Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.