Israel has taken the exceptional step Sunday for two days to complete the Old City of Jerusalem to the Palestinians following Israeli attacks which caused two deaths this weekend, Israeli Prime Minister asserting lead a total war against “Palestinian terrorism”.
Normally bustling, the eastern part of the Old City had the air of both ghost town and fortified camp, with its closed shops, narrow streets only traveled by tourists and its gates guarded by hundreds of police.
Not far from the Lion Gate, Israeli police dispersed with blows of sound grenades and rubber bullets few dozen demonstrators protesting against the restrictions imposed by the Israeli authorities. “It is my national duty and my religious duty to defend Al-Aqsa” mosque located on the Temple Mount overlooking the Old City, said one of the demonstrators, Umm Mohammed.
Outside the Old City, in the district of Essaouiya (East Jerusalem), dozens of masked young people brought down the Israeli police a rain of stones to which the police responded with fire from riot projectiles, in scenes reminiscent of the past intifada. The occupied West Bank is also beset by tensions.
Sunday night dozens of Palestinian youths clashed with Israeli soldiers out of Ramallah near the crossing point of Bet El. Several youths were injured by snipers firing live ammunition.
The settlers attack Palestinians
The Red Crescent said it had identified 24 hours 77 injured by live ammunition and rubber bullets across Gaza. Multiple clashes between Palestinians and Israeli soldiers and attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinians have been reported since the murder on Thursday night, two settlers riddled with bullets in front of their four children.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met its main security officials Sunday evening on his return from the United States. Israel “is fighting to the death against Palestinian terrorism,” he said in a video released by his office, claiming to have ordered severe measures, including “the acceleration of demolition of houses of terrorists” to “stop terrorism, deter and punish the attackers.”
Different voices were alarmed in recent days with a risk of fire. Palestinians and Israeli opposition spoke of the danger of a third intifada. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern that recent events “show a slide towards dangerous escalation” and launched an appeal for calm.
In a telephone interview with Ban Ki-moon, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas asked the international protection of the Palestinian people against the attacks of the settlers, said the presidency.
The current violence directly raise the question of the attitude of the Palestinian authorities. Will they seek to calm the game or hands? Abbas said last week at the UN no longer consider itself bound by previous agreements with the Israelis. Among these agreements is cooperation in the field of security, which is said to have greatly contributed to the relative stability in the West Bank.
Dozens killed in 2015
Closing the Old City of Jerusalem to the Palestinians is perceived as an additional measure vexatious by the Palestinians. It covers the vast majority of some 300,000 Palestinians of East Jerusalem (occupied part of Jerusalem in 1967 and annexed by Israel) who are not living in the Old City.
For two days only Israelis (y including Israeli Arabs largely supportive of the Palestinians), residents of the Old City, tourists, merchants and students of schools located between the ramparts will enter the Old City.
The esplanade, the third holiest Muslim, is, it, remained open. The access was nevertheless prohibits men younger than 50 years, another provision unacceptable to many Muslim faithful. Israel has sealed off the Old City after two knife attacks Saturday night and Sunday morning. One of them, in the Old City, made two Israeli deaths. The authors were shot dead by police. Islamic Jihad has presented one of them as a member.
A Sunday circulating video showed one of them walking away from his pursuers shouting: “Shoot him,” the police until a landslide. At least eight Israelis were killed in 2015 in violence related to the conflict, according to an AFP count. At least 29 people were killed on the Palestinian side. Rising tensions coincided with the start there three weeks of major Jewish holidays which end on Monday.