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Mideast cycle of violence rages

Two gunmen are the latest attackers, from radical groups who have also sent suicide bombers to attack Israel.


A Palestinian boy passes graffiti of a Hamas gunman in the Gaza strip

Central Jerusalem was the scene of a bloody shooting spree Tuesday, when a Palestinian gunman open fire in a market street.

Two women injured in the attack died of their wounds, pre-dawn Wednesday, while 12 other victims survived their injuries.

It was the second shooting incident within a week for Israel, which has lately been accustomed to suicide bombings more than shootings, raising fears that Palestinian terrorists were opting for a new form of violence.

This week's first attack was carried out, cruelly, against celebrants at an Israeli girl's bas mitzvah, the traditional party when a 13-year-old is initiated into Jewish religious life.

The Palestinian Authority, while condemning the attacks, asserted that Palestinians hold the high moral ground as victims of Israeli occupation.

Tuesday's gunman, killed by police as he fled the street, was reported to be a member of the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a group linked to Palestinian President Yassar Arafat's Fatah movement. The Al-Aqsa group released a statement blaming the "filthy Israelis" for violence in the region.

The Israeli government said there is "no justification for such attacks," while keeping up heightened military and police pressure within the occupied terrorities, and promising retaliation.

Since the Palestinian intifada, or uprising, began in September 2000, at least 816 Palestinians and 248 Israelis have been killed.

The current conflict between Israelis and Palestinians has not yet, in Europe, been called "war", rather a "cycle of violence". But the accelerating crisis begs a question – how far from peace must the Middle East wander before it earns that dreaded moniker.

Raising the prospect of more violence, in a tighter cycle, Hamas announced that Tuesday's attack is the start of a "fierce war" against Israel.

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