High alert in Israel after Palestinian deaths
Jerusalem: Tensions are
soaring across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories as stabbing
attacks and violent confrontations between protesters and soldiers continue to
build momentum, despite calls from leaders on both sides for de-escalation.
According to medics in
Gaza, six Palestinians have been shot dead and many more injured after Israeli
forces opened fire on a demonstration along Gaza’s border fence.
The Red Crescent has
reported that hundreds of Palestinians across the West Bank have also been
injured during clashes with Israeli military and police at flashpoint in
Ramallah, Bethlehem and Hebron. It comes as the series of knife attacks
targeting Israelis shows no signs of abating.
The recent wave of
stabbings began last Saturday night when two Israeli men were murdered in the
Old City of Jerusalem by a 19- year-old Palestinian law student.
On Friday morning In
Jerusalem, a Palestinian used a vegetable peeler to stab a 14-year-old Israeli
boy in Jerusalem, leaving him with minor injuries.
Outside the West Bank
Jewish settlement of Kiryat Arba a Palestinian man attacked an off-duty police
officer with a knife and tried to grab his gun. The officer suffered minor
injuries and killed his attacker.
In the northern city of
Afula, a 29-year-old Arab-Israeli woman tried to stab a bus station security
guard before she was shot by police and died shortly afterwards. It follows
another stabbing of a soldier in the same town on Thursday night, which
prompted crowds of Jewish youths to chant ‘death to Arabs’ in the streets.
In the southern city of
Dimona, two people from the country's Bedouin minority and two Palestinians
were injured after being stabbed by an Israeli man who said his attacks were
revenge for those made by Palestinians this week, according to Israeli media.
Dimona's mayor Beni
Bitton said the attacker was "mentally ill" and told Channel 10 TV
that bystanders had rushed to help the wounded.
Israeli Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu has "strongly condemned" the "harming of
innocent Arabs", adding that anyone using violence would be brought to
In a press conference
on Thursday night, Netanyahu insisted Israel was facing ‘wave of terrorist
attacks’ and vowed to bring the violence under control and restore security. Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas has urged against further violence.
However, in a speech
during the Friday prayers, Ismail Haniyeh, leader of Hamas, the armed
Palestinian Islamist group who control the Gaza Strip, welcomed the violence
against Israelis, declaring his support for what he described as an ‘intifada’.
The recent increase in
attacks has resulted in a massive deployment of Israeli and police across the
country and throughout the West Bank. Security measures in Jerusalem have
included restricting Palestinian men aged under 45 being barred from entering
al Aqsa mosque.
Metal detectors have
also been set up at the entrance to Jerusalem's Old City. There has been a
sharp rise in tensions in Jerusalem and the West Bank since late last month,
when clashes erupted over a dispute over access to the Al Aqsa mosque compound,
known to Muslims as the Haram al Sharif, and to Jews as the Temple Mount.