Two small bombs exploded in Jewish neighborhoods, and the plate-glass window of a Jewish bank in the largely Arab east side of the city was smashed Sunday as a week-old spate of ethnic violence continued to send tremors through Jerusalem.
Three Israeli girls and a seminary student were slightly injured by one of the bombs, which went off in a box of bread at a grocery store in the ultra-religious Mea Shearim quarter. A similar device, hidden inside a loaf of special holiday bread at another grocery store, exploded without causing any damage or injuries in the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
Security officials said they believe both bombs were planted by the same Arab individual or underground cell, and police put out a special warning to all Jerusalem grocery stores to be on alert.
Attacks Rare in Sector
While the Jewish sector of the city has frequently been the site of actual and attempted bombings in years past, such attacks have been rare in the nearly 10 months since the beginning of the Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The Palestinians have spoken with pride of what they call their “white” revolution, conducted primarily with nothing more lethal than rocks and bottles.
Security sources speculated that Sunday’s bombings may signal the activation by one of the Palestinian organizations of a “sleeper” cell trained in more traditional terrorist tactics.
The explosions came in the wake of renewed unrest in the capital, which has, with some notable exceptions, remained comparatively free of violence during what Palestinians and Israelis alike have come to call the intifada, the Arabic word for uprising. On Sunday, regular and paramilitary border police used tear gas to break up anti-Israeli demonstrations in East Jerusalem’s main Saladin Street and in the Silwan and A-Tur neighborhoods, at its southern and eastern perimeter.
The window of the Bank Hapoalim office in East Jerusalem was smashed during unrest there.
Worst in Three Months
While East Jerusalem’s Arab merchants have supported a Palestinian commercial strike in Gaza and the West Bank since the first weeks of the unrest, the recent violence in the capital is the worst in at least three months. And it recalls some of the most tense periods of last spring, at the height of the uprising.
The recent, almost daily flare-ups here are seen as part of a chain reaction to the killing of a 20-year-old Arab resident of Jerusalem’s Jebel Mukaber neighborhood a week ago.
Jamal Mater Shkerat was killed during a clash with border police under circumstances that are still not entirely clear. He was only the second Arab victim from Jerusalem since the uprising began in the Gaza Strip last Dec. 9, and his funeral turned into what the Jerusalem Post described as “one of the largest political demonstrations by Palestinians since East Jerusalem was annexed over 20 years ago.”
At least 260 Palestinians and four Israelis have died in unrest-related incidents during the last 10 months.