JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel’s West Bank barrier is fuelling attacks by East Jerusalem Arabs who feel isolated from fellow Palestinians and are increasingly likely to lash out independently, Israel’s domestic spy service said on Wednesday.
The findings by the Shin Bet, which has usually championed tough tactics against a Palestinian revolt that erupted in 2000, appeared to dovetail with Palestinian arguments that a peaceful resolution of Jerusalem’s status is key to addressing the causes of political violence in the city.
Citing a need to keep out suicide bombers, Israel has been erecting a network of fences and barricades in the West Bank which loop around Jerusalem. Palestinians see it as a de facto border designed to cut their political ties to East Jerusalem.
“Awareness of the fence is creating a long-term estrangement between Jerusalem and the West Bank,” the Shin Bet said in a statement, adding that some Palestinian attacks had been motivated by a grassroots desire “to ensure Jerusalem does not disappear from the political agenda.”
Israel captured East Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and coastal Gaza, in the 1967 Middle East war. It calls the entire city its capital, a claim not recognized internationally. Palestinians want a state with its capital in East Jerusalem.
The Shin Bet does not usually issue such statements, but the city has seen a surge in violence against Israelis this year, including three ramming incidents by Palestinian motorists who were subsequently shot dead, most recently on Monday.
The Shin Bet said it had found no ties between the drivers and Palestinian militant factions.
“In the past, terrorists from East Jerusalem acted mainly as support units for attacks, usually under instruction by outside networks in the Gaza Strip (and) West Bank,” the Shin Bet said.
“In recent months we discern a change in that the terrorists from Jerusalem have been initiating terrorism without outside guidance.”