A deadly arson attack and a new video have sparked outrage in Israel and the West Bank, even as prosecutors claim indictments are near. The video shows right-wing Israelis celebrating the death of a Palestinian baby.
A summer arson attack that left a Palestinian toddler and his parents dead, has unleashed a renewed cycle of intensified violence that has roiled Israel and the Palestinian territories for nearly five months.
While Israeli officials are hinting that indictments in the July 31 West Bank arson attack may be imminent, some of the suspects' lawyers have accused the security agency - also known as the Shin Bet - of trying to exact false confessions with torture.
The Shin Bet, in a rare public response, denied on Thursday it had tortured any of the suspects and said such "lies" were being disseminated in an effort to undermine the investigation.
Additional drivers of the latest round of bloodshed include access to a contested Jerusalem shrine and stalled peace talks.
Further inflaming the already volatile situation is video footage of far-right Jews mocking the arson victims. It sparked outrage in Israel on Thursday and debate over whether the leak aimed to sway public opinion in favor of tough interrogation of several suspects who are in state custody.
Aired on television late on Wednesday, the clip showed a Jerusalem wedding last week at which a dancing celebrant stabbed a picture of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsheh while others waved assault rifles, knives and what appeared to be a petrol bomb.
"The shocking pictures that were broadcast show the true face of a group that constitutes a danger to Israeli society and to the security of Israel," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahuaid in a statement.
It's not immediately clear what impact the video had on today's violence, but it was another bloody day, with at least four dead.
A knife-wielding Palestinian hurt two guards on Thursday near a Jewish settlement in the West Bank and was shot dead, the army said.
In other locations in the West Bank, another Palestinian was shot dead while trying to stab a soldier with a screwdriver, and a third was shot and killed after injuring a soldier in a car-ramming, the army said.
Near Qalandia in the West Bank, Israeli troops carrying out an arrest raid shot two Palestinians who fired at them from within a crowd of rock- and petrol bomb-throwing protesters, the army said. Local medics said a Palestinian was killed and six wounded. The army said two soldiers were hurt in the incident.
All told, Palestinians have killed 20 Israelis and a US citizen since October. Israeli forces or armed civilians have killed at least 124 Palestinians, 76 of whom authorities described as assailants, while others died in clashes with security forces.
bik/rc (Reuters, AP)