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Jerusalem bomb attack which killed Israeli sign of escalation in West Bank

The Jerusalem operation came at a time when the Palestinian territories are witnessing a field escalation in the wake of the right-wing victory in the Israeli elections, which may keep the door widely open for escalation in the coming period.
Israeli security forces gather at the scene of an explosion at a bus stop in Jerusalem, Nov. 23, 2022.

RAMALLAH, West Bank — The double bomb attack that took place in the city of Jerusalem Nov. 23, in which a settler was killed and 22 others injured, some of whom critically, resulted in a lot of questions about further escalation.

The Jerusalem operation could mark the beginning of a new phase of security escalation and confrontation between the Palestinians and Israel, as it poses great challenges to the Israeli security system amid the failure of the Israeli intelligence apparatus to identify the cell that carried out the operation.

There seems to be a panoply of escalation options, as Israel has previously threatened to respond to Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip should they continue to incite operations in the West Bank. In other words, targeting leaders in Gaza or carrying out large-scale incursions in the West Bank may be one of the response options to calls by ultranationalist Knesset member Itamar Ben-Gvir to return to the policy of assassinations and incursions in the West Bank.

In the wake of the operation, Israeli forces stormed the town of Beit Iksa, located northwest of Jerusalem, and raided several homes. The Israeli police announced that it raised the alert level in Jerusalem.

Al-Mayadeen channel quoted sources as saying that the resistance factions in Gaza have taken unprecedented security measures in the wake of the Jerusalem operation as part of their preparations for a major escalation that could turn into a large-scale war.

Mohammed al-Masry, director of the Palestinian Center for Research and Strategic Studies in Ramallah, told Al-Monitor, “The Jerusalem operation is qualitative and carefully planned and executed, as it required reconnaissance and follow-up measures, transportation of explosives and then remote detonation.”

Masry pointed out that in light of the Israeli elections and the absence of a political solution, the operation may add fuel to the fire, as he ruled out that Israel would opt for escalation with Gaza because it is keen to remain calm, even if it may up its pace in the West Bank, where the real conflict is actually happening.

Ismat Mansour, a Ramallah-based expert on Israeli affairs, told Al-Monitor that the operation is shrouded in mystery. Twenty-four hours into its execution, he said that a specific party is yet to claim responsibility for it, catching Israel off guard.

Mansour said there is a panoply of options concerning the party behind the operation. 

Asked about the repercussions of the Jerusalem operation, Mansour said, “Israel has concerns over the return of this type of operations because that would require a different approach on its part.”

The Hebrew Channel 14 revealed that a video clip, published by Iranian hackers, was obtained after the penetration of a major security apparatus in Israel.

“I think if it turns out that Hamas or Islamic Jihad are related to the operation, then this may prompt Israel to target leaders, both inside and outside of Gaza, and this could lead to an open confrontation,” he added.

Al-Monitor tried to contact several officials in the Palestinian Authority (PA) for comment, but to no avail. The PA has not issued a statement condemning the operation.

As of the time of writing, no party has yet publicly claimed responsibility for the operation, as the Palestinian factions have considered it a natural response to Israel's actions.

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