Sunday 25 March 2018

Pace of shootings and stabbing intensifies as Hamas calls for new intifada

DETERMINATION: A female Palestinian protester drops stones to the ground during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Bet El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah
DETERMINATION: A female Palestinian protester drops stones to the ground during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Bet El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah

Maayan Lubell

Israeli security forces have shot dead two Palestinians aged 12 and 15 in protests along Gaza's border fence, Palestinian medics said. Meanwhile, Israeli police said they killed three Palestinian assailants in separate violence in Jerusalem.

Eleven days of bloodshed, in which four Israelis and 19 Palestinians have been killed in Jerusalem, the Israeli-occupied West Bank, Gaza and Israeli cities, have raised concerns about a new Palestinian uprising.

Yesterday, two Palestinians were shot dead by police after stabbing at least four Israelis in separate knife attacks near Jerusalem's walled Old City, Israeli police said.

He said paramilitary police also killed a Palestinian militant after coming under fire from him during late-night clashes at the Shuafat refugee camp in east Jerusalem.

Hamas, the Islamist Palestinian militant group which controls the Gaza Strip, said the Shuafat shooter was one of its members.

"The hero martyr fought the Israeli occupation with language they understand," Hamas said.

In Gaza, Israeli soldiers shot dead the Palestinian boy and teenager as they were taking part in protests near the Israeli border security fence, Palestinian medical officials said.

An army spokeswoman said the protesters, in an Israeli-declared no-go security zone by the border, were hurling burning tyres and stones towards the soldiers, who fired warning shots in the air before shooting "at the main instigators".

Near the Old City's Damascus Gate, a Palestinian stabbed two police officers, seriously wounding one, a few hours after a 16-year-old Palestinian stabbed and wounded two ultra-Orthodox Jewish men nearby, Rosenfeld said.

The violence has been fuelled by Palestinian fears that visits by Jewish groups and lawmakers to the Jerusalem Old City plaza, revered in Judaism as the site of two destroyed biblical temples, are eroding Muslim religious control of the al-Aqsa mosque compound, Islam's third holiest shrine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said repeatedly that he will not allow any change to the arrangements, under which Jews can visit the site but non-Muslim prayer is banned.

His assurances over conditions at the site, known as Temple Mount to Jews and Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, have done little to quell alarm among Muslims in the region.

The almost daily Palestinian knife attacks and clashes between Israeli soldiers and stone-throwing Palestinians are not at the levels of violence of past Palestinian uprisings, but the escalation has prompted talk of a third 'intifada'.

In 2000, Ariel Sharon, later Israel's prime minister, visited the al-Aqsa compound.

That enraged Palestinians and led to an uprising lasting five years, leaving 3,000 Palestinians and 1,000 Israelis dead.

Clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops also broke out on Saturday near the West Bank cities of Hebron and Ramallah and again at the Shuafat camp.

Scores of Palestinians were injured including 17 hit by live gunfire, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.

Both Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas have called for calm and Palestinian police continue to co-ordinate with Israeli security forces in an attempt to restore order, but there are few signs of the violence dying down.

Palestinians want East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza - lands Israel captured in the 1967 Middle East war, for a future state.


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