Shin Bet chief warns FBI, Pentagon Jerusalem tensions could spark violence

Bar shares concerns widespread violence could wash the capital like last year when nightly clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces during Ramadan triggered war in Gaza

Yossi Yehoshua|
The head of the Shin Bet domestic security agency warned the FBI and the Pentagon of tensions in Jerusalem escalating to a full-fledged round of fighting between Israel and the Palestinians during the holy month of Ramadan, Ynet has learned on Sunday.
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  • In his first official visit to Washington since taking the post five months ago, Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar met with FBI Director Christopher A. Wray and senior security officials to discuss the shared security challenges that Israel and the United States are facing, cementing technology transfer agreements, and sundry cybersecurity issues. The parties also exchanged thoughts about the war between Russia and Ukraine, albeit not on an official footing.
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    עימותים בהר הבית
    עימותים בהר הבית
    Fireworks fired into a crowd during violent Ramadan clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli security forces on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, May 8, 2021
    (Photo: Reuters)
    Bar shared his agency's concerns that widespread violence could wash the capital similarly to last year when nightly clashes erupted between Palestinians and Israeli security forces, with tensions rapidly spreading and triggering an 11-day war between Israel and Gaza's militant Hamas rulers.
    Ramadan, a time of heightened religious fervor, will start this year at the beginning of April and will overlap with the Jewish festival of Passover, which is expected to draw some 100,000 Jewish pilgrims to the capital.
    However, some government officials have argued these warnings were only serving to stoke tensions since current intelligence does not indicate that such a scenario is likely. Critics say that such rhetoric "requires" Palestinian terrorist factions to act, even if only symbolically.
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    ראש השב"כ הנכנס רונן בר יוצא לתקשורת
    ראש השב"כ הנכנס רונן בר יוצא לתקשורת
    Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar
    (Photo: Yair Sagi)
    Israel has recently decided to increase the number of work permits it issues to Gaza laborers from 10,000 to 12,000 on account of the relative calm in the Palestinian enclave in recent months. These figures are expected to further swell if calm is maintained.
    On the other hand, the situation on the West Bank has remained strained since last May's fighting and tensions have been simmering with a slew of attacks against Israelis, but intelligence does not point to a widespread outbreak of violence anytime soon.
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