A right-wing Israeli politician makes a high-profile visit to Temple Mount, Islam’s third holiest site, encompassing al-Aqsa Mosque and the Dome of the Rock.
Seething Palestinian protesters respond, violently venting their anger on Israeli security forces, who retaliate, opening fire and killing several. Overnight, riots spread and whole communities go into a state of lockdown, as Palestinian terror attacks see Israelis targeted across the country.
The year is 2000, the politician is Ariel Sharon and the fallout comes to be infamously known as the second intifada. To those watching the news this week, the similarities between then and now are eerily familiar.
Violence in Gaza this summer has given way to vicious hatred in Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and beyond.
Israel is on high alert.
On Monday, 20-year-old Israeli soldier Almog Shiloni and 25-year-old Dalia Lemkus were stabbed to death, in Tel Aviv and in the settlement of Alon Shvut in the West Bank, respectively.
Security forces have rounded up Palestinians in the West Bank. Arab states have pulled ambassadors.
Benjamin Netanyahu has called for calm while threatening to bulldoze the houses of protesters. But he is stuck in the crosshairs.
The left faults him for a lacking peace process; the right says his security policies are too lenient; Palestinians blame him squarely for the continuing stalemate.
For some, Israel’s actions have contributed to the escalation. Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem have been seized and razed, with thousands of housing units planned for Jews.
Palestinians have been banned from buses and prevented from entering sacred religious sites.
This week, YouTube footage emerged purporting to show Israeli policemen shooting a Palestinian man in retreat. It is easy to see how anger boils over. But terrorism is never the answer, and must be met firmly.
Operation Protective Edge in Gaza was about establishing deterrence, and the same may now be required in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
Netanyahu is petty to tell Israeli Arabs to “go to Gaza” but right to crack down if it succeeds in protecting Israelis.
In the long-term, Israel needs to treat the Palestinians with the respect they deserve, but in the short-term they need to make it so terrible to harm Israelis that this third intifada – if that is what this is – is exceedingly short-lived.
That’s what the right-wing Israeli politician who visited Temple Mount in September 2000 would have done.