Is a third intifada brewing?
Many Palestinians say they do not want to return to the regimen of daily violence.
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Another uncle, Tawfiq, says his nephew was "extremely normal and showed no sign of political affiliations or training."Skip to next paragraph
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Conflicting reports have linked the gunman to Hamas and then to Hizbullah; the green and yellow flags of both movements began springing up in Jebel Mukaber after the news broke. Family members said that Israeli police here told them if the family didn't take down all of the flags, as well as the "shahid posters" that already plastered the walls of the neighborhood, they wouldn't be allowed to have a mourning tent at all.
The celebratory flyers read: "The Islamic Movement in Jebel Mukabar congratulates its people for the martyr Alaa Abu Dhaim, who answered the call to his God in a heroic operation in Dir Yassin." Dir Yassin was the name of an Arab village that existed near the site of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva until 1948, the year of the war that led to Israel's establishment.
Just as the use of the name Dir Yassin conjures a sense of decades-old revenge so close to Israel's 60th anniversary this May, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said that Abu Dhaim's choice of target was itself symbolic.
"The terrorist ... did not choose it by coincidence in his pursuit of victims," Mr. Olmert said at Sunday's cabinet meeting. "Mercaz Harav is a very special place in Jerusalem and for the Zionist movement. It is the flagship of religious Zionism. It is the place from which have come forth the best soldiers for many generations," he said, adding that it "has educated and nurtured tradition and legacy, as part of Israel's resilience."
At Abu Dhaim's home, from which there is a clear view of a West Bank separation barrier cutting through the landscape, relatives and friends said the motivation for the attack might have come from many places, but most palpably, from the recent violence in the Gaza Strip.
Responding to Palestinian missile attacks on its southern communities, Israel launched a short but intensive military campaign on Gaza the week before last, in which approximately 126 Palestinians died in the space of several days. Two Israeli soldiers died in the operation; several citizens have been injured by Katyusha and Qassam rockets launched by Palestinian militants.
According to the Associated Press, Egyptian officials have been meeting with Hamas representatives in an effort to forge some kind of cease-fire between Hamas and Israel.
Up the street from Abu Dhaim's house in East Jerusalem, a group of men who would usually be at work on Israeli construction sites sat drinking coffee together for the day because they deemed the atmosphere too tense to go to work in the Jewish parts of town, due to the yeshiva shooting.
Most had lived through one if not two intifadas. Now in their late 20s and early 30s most were less than enthusiastic about the start of a new intifada and hoped it wouldn't come to be. At the same time, they said, their lives had not improved and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict seemed to be growing worse.
"No amount of violence is ever going to bring peace. But what we see on television of what Israel is doing in Gaza is much more disturbing than seeing an army jeep on my corner," says Mahmoud Abbas, no relation to the president.
For Amour and his friends, they welcome another intifada. About last week's shooting attack in Jerusalem, they said: "Inshallah [God-willing], there should be more operations like this."
Amour, the most vocal of his clique, explains it this way. "We welcomed it completely. And if the Israelis hit Gaza again, things will start up again here."