Tensions are high as clashes continue between Israeli security forces and Palestinians around Jerusalem’s most sensitive holy site. There has been almost daily violence at the site known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.
Anxiety over Jerusalem is rising more than usual this year due to a rare overlapping of religious holidays that have drawn tens of thousands of worshipers to Jerusalem’s Old City since last Friday, when Muslims observe Ramadan and Jews celebrate. Easter.
Since Monday night, militants in Gaza have fired two rockets at Israel, but no group has yet claimed responsibility. The Israeli air force carried out airstrikes against militant sites in the Gaza Strip in response to both incidents. The tug-of-war has been the biggest escalation between Gaza and Israel since they fought a deadly 11-day conflict last May that was also sparked by tensions in Jerusalem.
What is happening in Jerusalem?
Israeli police said there were more skirmishes with Palestinians around the Aqsa mosque on Thursday morning, when dozens of masked men tried to prevent Jewish visitors from visiting the area by throwing stones and firing fireworks. The Palestinian Red Crescent said 20 Palestinians were injured during the clashes.
Where did these clashes take place?
They occurred in the compound of the Al Aqsa mosque. It is located in a hilltop plaza known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as the Temple Mount. It is the holiest place in Judaism and is among the holiest places in Islam. Jews pray below at the Wailing Wall, which is part of the compound.
This area is the most sensitive Israeli-Palestinian flashpoint and violence there has escalated more widely in the past.
What actions has Israel taken to defuse the violence?
On Wednesday, Israeli police prevented hundreds of right-wing nationalist Jews from marching into an area in east Jerusalem known as a flashpoint between Jewish and Arab residents.
What do the Palestinians say?
Nabil Abu Rudeineh, the spokesman for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, called the police measures around the mosque “illegitimate.” “All the measures are a violation of international law that recognizes the State of Palestine with East Jerusalem as its capital on the pre-1967 borders,” Mr. Rudeineh said. The Palestinian Authority governs the Palestinian-controlled territories in the West Bank.
The Hamas militant group, which controls the Gaza Strip and is trying to expand its influence in Jerusalem and the West Bank, has vowed to protect the Al Aqsa Mosque; “regardless of the price,” said its leader Ismail Haniyeh.
What led to these tensions?
A series of violent attacks on Israeli civilians has left 14 people dead in four apparently unconnected attacks in different cities. The latest attack was on April 7 in central Tel Aviv, when a gunman opened fire in a crowded bar, killing two immediately and a third who died of his injuries a day later.
Benny Gantz, Israel’s defense minister, has recently warned Palestinians in recurring messages that the series of attacks threatens Israel’s efforts to improve their quality of life, especially during Ramadan. Those measures include thousands of coveted permits to work in Israel, approval to create new housing in the West Bank, loans to the Palestinian Authority, and permission for men, women and children over the age of 50 to pray at Jerusalem’s holy sites during Ramadan.
Has this happened before?
There is a history of violence surrounding this Christmas season. Nearly a year ago, violent clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in and around the Al Aqsa Mosque compound contributed to a deadly conflict between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.
This article could be updated.
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