Rachel's Tomb located adjacent to Bethlehem in Judea, which is the site where the Jewish Biblical matriarch Rachel is buried, has turned into a key terror target – now a new trend has flared up with Arab assailants firing explosive charges into the compound.
A., a member of the compound staff, spoke to Arutz Sheva on Friday about the new scourge, noting that there have long been rock attack attempts and riots given the proximity to the hostile Arab population in Bethlehem.
"Thank G-d the Border Patrol warriors in the area know how to deal with it strongly and effectively," said A. of the status quo until now.
But recently to the rock throwing and protests has been added a new attack which hasn't garnered attention in the media, apparently because up until now no one has been wounded by even though the danger is life-threatening to the extreme.
"Recently explosives have started falling. That's new," said A., explaining that the explosives were fired in by a sort of catapult slingshot that has been used in a smaller form to launch rocks.
The terrorists fire the explosives at a distance of roughly 100 meters (around 330 feet) from the protective walls of the compound, and aim at a section of the wall that is slightly lower – the point is where students of the compound's yeshiva go outside to get some fresh air, and is also a parking area for visitors to the site.
The last attack took place on Thursday at 11:05 p.m. A. relates that he sat adjacent to the yeshiva when he heard the explosion, and immediately he and his companions ran to the site of the attack only to be told to return and take cover for fear of follow up explosives.
Saturday was the last explosive attack before that; in that attack likewise no one was wounded, although shrapnel from the explosive hit the door of the dormitories of students at the yeshiva and embedded deeply in it. The students who were standing nearby were unharmed.
A. emphasized that the earnest work of the Border Patrol warriors is preventing the daily attacks from inflicting a toll in human life. He expressed his hopes that the forces will be able to provide a response to the new and dangerous phenomenon before anyone is wounded.
Terror at the tomb
Just last Monday a female Border Patrol guard was stabbed in the neck at Rachel's Tomb by a female Arab terrorist. She was seriously wounded but miraculously survived the attempt on her life and her condition has stabilized.
Rachel's Tomb has been a target for terror attacks since the outbreak of the Second Intifada or Oslo War in 2000, and as a result the compound has been heavily fortified.
While the recent slingshot-explosive trend may be a newly deployed tactic in recent days, there is in fact a history of explosive attacks at the compound from several years ago.
The IDF told Knesset Members in mid-2013 that about 200 firebombs and 90 improvised explosive devices (IEDs) had been thrown at the compound since November 2012's Pillar of Defense counter-terror operation in Gaza, indicating an average of almost two bombs a day.
The military said that the nine-meter (almost 30-feet) high walls that have been constructed around the Tomb compound have not sufficed to provide security, with suggestions raised at the time to build a roof to protect the site from attacks from all angles.