Sheera Frenkel
The Times
July 7, 2008 - 4:23pm

Israel’s vision of Jerusalem as its “indivisible capital” came under attack yesterday as leaders reacted to Wednesday’s carnage by calling for a wall across the city’s ethnic divide.

The Government says that the barrier between itself and Palestinian communities in the West Bank has thwarted many terrorist attacks. However, two recent acts of terrorism perpetuated by Arabs living in east Jerusalem has left some asking whether Israel should abandon the dream of a united Jerusalem and isolate itself further from Arab communities.

Haim Ramon, the Israeli Vice Prime Minister, led a growing chorus of voices calling for a barrier to separate many of east Jerusalem’s neighbourhoods from the rest of the city. “It would be much more difficult to carry out attacks like these and 50,000 Palestinians who live in those two neighborhoods would not be able to reach Jerusalem so easily if they didn’t have blue [Israeli] identity cards,” he said.

Hossam Dwayyat, 30, drove his digger off a construction site and into the oncoming traffic on Jaffa Road on Wednesday, killing three people and leaving a trail of destruction before he was shot dead by security personnel. Video footage of twisted metal heaps and an overturned bus which Dwayyat repeatedly rammed with his digger stunned the Israeli public, who turned to their leaders for answers on how their security could be guaranteed.

“How can we feel safe when these terrorists are always finding new ways to attack us? I know that not all of the Arabs feel this way, but enough do. And we can’t risk exposing ourselves to those who want to kill us,” said Moshe Nazrahi, 41, a local shopkeeper.Israel captured Arab east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and annexed it along with nearby villages in a move that is not recognised internationally, granting Palestinian residents Israeli identity cards that give them wide freedom of movement.

Dwayyat used his mobility to secure a job on the west Jerusalem construction site from which he mounted his attack. Redrawing the barrier’s route would draw fire from Israel’s right wing and entail a change in government policy at a time when borders are a central issue of peace talks.

Tightening security in and around east Jerusalem could also be difficult and give the impression of a physical divide in the holy city — something that Israel has long sought to avoid.

“There are 200,000 Arabs in east Jerusalem. You can’t put up roadblocks or a fence that would make life unbearable for everyone,” an Israeli government official said.

Ehud Olmert, the Prime Minister, was focusing instead yesterday on razing Dwayyat’s home, and pushing for a Bill that would revoke benefits for his wife and two children.Three militant groups claimed responsibility for the attack, although there is evidence that Dwayyat had been driven not by political motives but personal despair.

Dwayyat appears to have had a love affair with a Russian Jew, brought the woman to live in his family’s home, but the woman’s family used a religious organisation to remove her.


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