(Photo credit: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Israel’s National Security Minister Itamar Ben Gvir, on 10 February, ordered security forces to prepare for a significant offensive in occupied Jerusalem starting on Sunday “to root out terror nests… and reach the terrorists at their homes.”
The Jewish supremacist official called the operation he desired “Defensive Shield 2” — a reference to a major 2002 Israeli military campaign in the West Bank during the Second Intifada that left 497 Palestinians dead.
Approximately 7,000 Palestinians were detained during brutal raids across the West Bank.
In response to Ben Gvir’s unilateral order, a senior government official told Hebrew media: “decisions of such a scale are not made in statements by one minister or another on a sidewalk at the scene of an attack.”
The official said that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will decide on any operation only after conferring with the security establishment and “after an orderly discussion in the cabinet.”
On Friday, two Israeli settlers were killed, and at least five others were wounded following a car-ramming operation at a bus stop in occupied East Jerusalem.
A six-year-old boy and a 20-year-old man were killed, and at least five others were wounded in the car-ramming terror attack at a bus stop near East Jerusalem’s Ramot neighborhood, police and medics said. One of those injured was a child in critical condition.
The Palestinian attacker, who was executed in his car, was from Jerusalem’s Issawiya.
As the situation across the occupied territories continues to deteriorate, the Pentagon announced on 11 February that Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is set to visit Tel Aviv and Ramallah this month to continue efforts to ease tensions between the Palestinians and Israelis.
Austin will be the fourth senior US official to visit Israel in recent weeks.
Since the start of the year, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan, and CIA chief William Burns have all visited Israel.