JERUSALEM (AP) – The holy city of Jerusalem, a rival religious and political cause, has repeatedly provoked Israeli-Palestinian violence.
This time, there are already a few additional sparks, including Jewish extremists, who, encouraged by their political sponsors in the newly elected parliament, staged a provocative march to the walled Old City of Jerusalem, chanting “Death to the Arabs.”
Over the course of several days, nighttime street battles in Jerusalem escalated into cross-border fighting between Israeli police and “disgruntled Palestinians in the city” between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic State militant group in Gaza. Gaza militants fired heavy rockets into southern Israel, and Israel carried out several airstrikes on Gaza.
The political stance of the Israeli-Palestinian leaders added to the tense atmosphere.
Here is a closer look at what prompted the violence.
THE HEART OF CONFLICT.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem, along with the Gaza Strip on the West Bank, in 1967. In the war in the Middle East. The Palestinians claim all three spheres for the creation of a future independent state, whose capital will be East Jerusalem.
After the war, Israel seized East Jerusalem, home to the city’s most sensitive Jewish, Muslim-Christian shrines, and viewed the entire city as its united capital.
The fate of Jerusalem և its holy places is one of the most egregious issues in the conflict, the city has seen many waves of violence over the years.
The immediate outbreak of the current unrest was Israel’s decision to barricade one of the squares outside the Old City of Jerusalem during the holy month of Ramadan.
That decision seemed to be overturned late Sunday evening, when the barricades were suddenly lifted and happy celebrations began at the gates of Damascus.
Palestinians traditionally gather on the spot every night after prayers and fasting during the day.
Hundreds of young Palestinian men take to the streets every night to be taken to a public gathering. Crowds hurled stones, firebombs and other objects at police, and officers fired rocket-propelled grenades and water cannons. Dozens of people were injured.
Israel’s apparent retaliation late Sunday night could help ease tensions. The crowd applauded and chanted “God is great” as people sat on the steps again.
The actions of recent weeks have touched on Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to deepen its control over east Jerusalem.
“All we wanted to do was sit on the steps of the Damascus Gate at night drinking coffee or tea,” said Ram, a 24-year-old resident who asked not to be named because he feared arrest.
“It is a tradition for the residents of the old town to go out to have a rest. “My father was sitting on the steps of the Damascus Gate in front of me,” he said before opening the seat. “What the police are trying to do has simply erased our identity.”
On Thursday night, an Israeli far-right group called Lehwa staged a mass demonstration just a few hundred meters from the Palestinian crowd.
It said the march was in response to TikTok videos showing Palestinians accidentally slapping religious Jews. But the leader of the group is a student of the late Rabbi Meyer Kahane, who facilitated the forced expulsion of Palestinians from the holy land. While the police kept the two sides apart from, Lehava- protesters chanted “Death to Arabs” and “Arabs come out.”
Earlier on Saturday, Gaza militants responded by firing 36 rockets at Israel, the deadliest barrier in a year. Israel retaliated by striking at Hamas targets.
HOW MUCH IS IT?
As Palestinians plan elections next month, President Mahmoud Abbas and his Hamas rivals have tried to present themselves as defenders of Jerusalem.
Abbas threatens to postpone the election until Israel allows Palestinians to vote in East Jerusalem. Israel has not stated its position, but it is unlikely to give up. It could be an excuse for Abbas, whose Fatah party is doing poorly, to cancel the vote. But it could also escalate tensions in Jerusalem.
Although Hamas is believed to be directly involved in the recent rocket fire, it has done little to stop it և may tacitly encourage it as a message of solidarity with the Palestinians in Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is desperately trying to stay in power after last month’s Israeli election was the fourth deadlock in a row.
Netanyahu was pleased to see the support of the right-wing Religious Zionism party for its free relations with Lehwa. This spread seems to have encouraged Lehwa. With about a week to go before the new coalition is formed, Netanyahu is unlikely to contain the group or its supporters.
“In the background, the question is to what extent Netanyahu’s failure to form a coalition has fueled the clashes and the government’s response,” wrote commentator Nadav Eyal in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth. “There are just a lot of matches that can burn.”
CO WHERE ARE THERE?
Israel’s decision to allow the Palestinians to lift the embargo late Sunday night seemed to ease tensions.
Earlier, “Israel” and “Hamas” announced that they want to cool the situation.
Rocket fire from Gaza resumed late Saturday night, but at a much slower rate, with only four shells fired. Israel decided to take revenge,: the rocket fire calmed down.
At the same time, Netanyahu called for silence in Jerusalem. “Now we demand to observe the law. “I urge all parties to show restraint,” he said.
Jordan, which guards Jerusalem’s Muslim sanctuaries, համատեղ Egypt on Sunday jointly called on Israel to “stop all attacks and provocations in Jerusalem.”
Jordan’s Egyptian foreign ministers discussed the tension in a telephone conversation and jointly condemned “violence and incitement by Palestinian extremist groups.”
Although it was impossible to predict that the clashes would end, the initial response to the removal of barriers outside the Old City was a positive sign.
But minor clashes erupted in Jerusalem late Sunday night as the Israeli military announced that two rockets had been fired from Gaza, indicating that the final phase of the operation was not over.
Associated Press writer Omar Akour, in Amman, Jordan, contributed to this report.