JERUSALEM (AP) – Competitive demands for the holy city of Jerusalem have long fueled fighting between Israel and the Palestinians. But a new mix of players, including Gaza militants and Jewish-Israeli extremists, has made the latest round of violence particularly burning.
The riots are typical of the night clashes between Palestinian youth and the Jerusalem police outside the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem.
Over the weekend, Israeli anti-Arab extremists, apparently encouraged by the election of their allies in parliament, clashed in a march demanding violence against Arabs.
Palestinian militants fired rockets into southern Israel in the Gaza Strip. And the political stance of the Israeli-Palestinian leaders added to the tense atmosphere.
Let’s take a closer look at what is at stake.
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. Israel captured East Jerusalem after the war, viewing 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 second Palestinian uprising in the early 2000s, the 50-day war between Israel and Hamas, the Islamic State of Gaza, were both rooted in the tensions in Jerusalem. As the United States moved its embassy to Jerusalem in 2018, Israeli fire killed at least 60 Palestinians during a violent demonstration along the Gaza border with Israel.
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. 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.
The note touched on Palestinian fears that Israel was seeking to deepen its control over east Jerusalem. In recent weeks, for example, Palestinian human rights groups have rallied against Jewish settlements to seize property and evict residents.
“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 before me,” he said. “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. 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 with a series of airstrikes on Hamas targets, raising the risk of further escalation.
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. It has not stated its position, but it is unlikely to give up. This could be an excuse for Abbas, whose Fatah party will give a bad result, 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, the group has done little to stop it և may tacitly encourage it as a message of solidarity with the Palestinians in the holy city.
At the same time, Netanyahu is desperately trying to stay in power after last month’s Israeli election reached a fourth deadlock.
Netanyahu was pleased to see the support of the right-wing Religious Zionism party for its free relations with Lehwa. Probably, Netanyahu’s spread to religious Zionism encouraged the showing of Lehwa, who had long been confined to the outskirts of Israel. 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?
In the past 24 hours, “Israel” and “Hamas” have 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.
Palestinian protests in Jerusalem are dominated by locals, who do not seem to have an organized leadership, so it is impossible to predict that the clashes will end.
Israeli police, meanwhile, have no signs of backing down.
In an interview on Sunday, Jerusalem Police Chief Doron Turjeman said barricades near the Old Gate in Damascus were needed to prevent obstacles and allow tens of thousands of worshipers to move freely to the nearby Al-Aqsa Mosque.
He said he had no intention of removing the fence. “It will not help,” he told Kan Public Radio. “In the current situation, it will only make it worse.”