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Why the Damascus Gate is more important than ever

Over the past few months, East Jerusalem's Damascus Gate has become a focal point for young Palestinians seeking to kill Israeli security officers and to avenge their friends.

East Jerusalem's Damascus Gate has emerged as the hot spot in the current intifada. Hardly a day goes by without a security incident in its immediate vicinity, be it a successful attack or an aborted attempt. The most recent deadly attack at the gate occurred Feb. 3, when three Palestinians from Qabatiya and Jenin, armed with guns and pipe bombs, arrived to carry out a multi-casualty attack. They aroused the suspicion of border police officers, and in the ensuing engagement, servicewoman Hadar Cohen was killed, and a colleague was seriously wounded. On Feb. 15, a 15-year-old girl armed with two knives was arrested near the gate. A day earlier, two Palestinians opened fire with modified automatic weapons at a police squad being briefed at the site. The officers returned fire, killing both attackers.

Each previous intifada has had a place that became iconic in the eyes of the Palestinians. During the first intifada (1987-1993), it was the Jabaliya refugee camp in the Gaza Strip. To this day, Palestinians relate stories of heroism by the camp’s residents, who decided to rise up, an action that ultimately brought Israel to the negotiating table and the agreement to establish the Palestinian Authority. During the second intifada (2000-2005), the city of Jenin in the West Bank became a revered symbol after dispatching a number of suicide bombers to Israel. Back then, Israeli security officials called it a “hotbed for suicide bombers.” Jenin continued to “produce” suicide bombers even after Operation Defensive Shield in 2002.

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