Hamas leader calls for third intifada as violence spirals
Israeli troops shot dead five Palestinians in protests in Gaza yesterday and a knife-wielding Jewish man wounded four Arabs in southern Israel in a wave of violence that has fuelled talk of a new intifada against Israeli occupation.
The Israeli soldiers shot across the border into Gaza after the Palestinians came too close to the frontier, throwing stones and rolling burning tyres, an Israeli army spokeswoman said. Gaza medics said five people were killed and 30 wounded.
The protests were in solidarity with Palestinians protesting in Jerusalem and the Israeli-occupied West Bank, where tensions have surged in 10 days of violence in which four Israelis and at least eight Palestinians have been killed.
Palestinians have been angered by events at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City and fear Israel wants to change the status quo at the holy site, revered by Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and by Jews as the Temple Mount.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denied wanting to change conditions under which Jews are allowed to visit the site but non-Muslim prayer is banned, but his assurances have done little to quell alarm among Muslims across the region. The violence is not of the intensity of two Palestinian uprisings in the late 1980s and early 2000s but the attacks have prompted talk of a third "intifada".
In Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh praised Palestinians who have carried out knife attacks as "heroes" and said a new intifada focused on Jerusalem was under way.
"This is Friday, this is the day of rage... It is a day that will represent the start of a new intifada in all of the land of Palestine," he told followers after prayers.
"We give our souls and blood for Jerusalem, Jerusalem and al-Aqsa is part of the religion."