Judging by the deafening blast of sirens and the sheer number of law enforcement vehicles—suvs, sedans, motorcycles, even mopeds—racing across town, we knew something terrible had just happened.
We were waiting for our bus on a Wednesday afternoon near the intersection of King George Street and Jaffa Road—one of Jerusalem’s busiest commercial districts. Less than a mile ahead of us, on Jaffa, a 30-year-old Arab construction worker had just begun a deadly game of bumper cars. Behind the wheel of a massive 50,000-pound front-end loader, Husam Dwayat rammed his foot on the accelerator and screamed “God is great!” Then, he proceeded to wildly bulldoze his way from one side of the street to the other—smashing everything in his path.
In the end, after this fit of squashing automobiles and tipping over buses, three Israeli women were left dead and dozens of others injured. An 18-year-old Israeli soldier, at home on leave from the army, ended the carnage as abruptly as it started when he jumped onto the bulldozer, climbed into the cab and shot the terrorist in the head.
After boarding our chartered bus, with Jaffa now sealed off, our bus driver proceeded to circle around for an alternative route to Tel Aviv. We were headed to the Institute for National Security Studies to attend a briefing about specific proposals designed to push forward the often discussed two-state solution.
Maj. Gen. Giora Eiland (Ret.), formerly Israel’s national security adviser, made two proposals. His first plan called for Jordan to maintain control over a semi-autonomous Palestinian state in the West Bank (which Jordan doesn’t want). The second proposal was much more complicated—requiring Israel, Egypt and Jordan to give up land to the Palestinians in exchange for economic benefits mostly.
But what about Jerusalem? one reporter asked after his presentation.
“I don’t want to talk about Jerusalem now because it is out of the context of the presentation,” Eiland responded. “Jerusalem has nothing to do with this solution.”
Yet the tragedy on Jaffa that very day, together with the attack four months earlier at Mercaz Harav Yeshiva, where an east Jerusalem Arab gunned down eight Jewish students, has thrust the Jerusalem question to front and center of the current debate about peace in the Middle East.
Terrorists’ Choice Recruiting Pool
The unconventional attack on July 2 highlights how imaginative terrorists can be in killing their enemies. But it also proves how difficult it has been for them to smuggle explosives across Israel’s 465-mile security fence. Since Israel constructed its “wall of defense” in response to the second intifada, suicide bombing attacks have virtually ground to a halt. Last year, for example, Palestinian terrorists killed 13 Israelis, compared to 426 in 2002.
The barrier that was designed to keep terrorists and explosives out, however, also works to keep more than 200,000 Palestinians in (a situation most Palestinians in Jerusalem prefer, by the way). These Arabs, equipped with Jerusalem residency cards, are allowed to move freely throughout the city and—as in the case of Dwayat—even work for Jewish construction companies. Terrorist groups outside the Green Line view the Palestinians in Jerusalem as a crucial pool of potential recruits since they are already inside Israel.
For Israel, the situation is worsened because of its standing as a free democracy, where all residents are meant to be treated equally. Immediately after the Jaffa attack, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the mayor of Jerusalem all called for Dwayat’s home in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Bahir to be demolished in order to send a message to wannabe terrorists.
This is easier said than done, as Jerusalemites learned after the March shooting spree, when many government officials called for the same action but failed to act on it. As Calev Ben-David pointed out in the Jerusalem Post, “By granting special residency and potential citizenship status to Jerusalem’s Palestinians, Israel has opened up a hornet’s nest of problematic legal issues when it comes to carrying out retaliatory sanctions against them in the wake of terrorist attacks such as the one yesterday. For example, any home demolitions and expulsion orders against Arab residents and citizens will surely face judicial challenges that such actions violate the country’s basic laws against discrimination unless they are equally applied to its Jewish residents and citizens” (July 3).
The complexity of this arrangement, together with the security benefits the fence has provided overall, is why more Israelis are warming to the idea of dividing Jerusalem.
Calls to Divide the City
Just seven years ago, after Ehud Barak offered half of Jerusalem to Yasser Arafat, 400,000 Israelis protested the move at a demonstration near the Old City—Israel’s largest group protest ever.
Since then, even before the Jerusalem attacks this year, polls have shown dwindling support for the “one Jerusalem” platform. In December of 2005, one study suggested that about half of Israelis supported the idea of giving up parts of Arab east Jerusalem if it would solidify a peace deal with the Palestinians.
After the July 2 attack, some Jewish organizations called upon Israel’s government to immediately begin constructing additional barriers within Jerusalem. The following day, Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon said the West Bank barrier should be rerouted in order to exclude Arab neighborhoods from Israel. “These are Palestinian villages that were never part of Jerusalem. They were annexed to it in 1967,” Ramon said on Army Radio.
On the evening of the attack, Prime Minister Olmert acknowledged that Israel must get tougher on perpetrators of terror. But “there is no way to fence off the Arabs of east Jerusalem and every home of a potential terrorist,” he said. With tens of thousands of Jews and Arabs living in neighborhoods that abut one another—all of them sharing the same parks, malls and government services—the task of carving up the city with a security fence would be nearly impossible.
Regular Trumpet readers know exactly where these events are leading. Backed by the authority of God’s Word, we have been saying for years that Jerusalem will eventually be split in half—but not the way most observers think!
Taken by Violence
As weak as Israel’s current government is—as much as it wants to give away land for peace—east Jerusalem will not be given away. God says it will be taken by violence! “Behold, the day of the Lord cometh,” the Prophet Zechariah wrote, “and the city [Jerusalem] shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city” (Zechariah 14:1-2).
Of the 26 Israelis that have been killed by terrorists this year (already twice as many as were killed in 2007), nearly half have been murdered in the Jerusalem attacks.
What we are witnessing may be the earliest stages of violence that will result in half of Jerusalem falling into the hands of terrorists. God’s prophecies ought to be ringing in our heads like those siren blasts we heard echoing in this ancient city!
Look again at Zechariah’s prophecy. Notice what’s presented right in the context of half of Jerusalem being taken captive: the appearance of the Messiah on Earth! (see verses 3 and 4).
So watch Jerusalem. It has everything to do with the solution God has in mind for ultimately bringing peace to the Middle East—and the entire world!