Jerusalem braced for further violence as flashpoints between Israelis and Palestinians threaten unrest

·3-min read

Jerusalem is bracing itself for another tense week as Palestinians prepare on Monday to celebrate the end of Ramadan with Eid al Fitr, and Israelis mark Independence Day this coming Thursday.

Both events could spark further trouble as feelings are running high between the two sides following a violent month.

Fourteen Israelis were killed in four separate terror attacks in late March and early April, and more than 20 Palestinians lost their lives in clashes with Israeli soldiers.

There has also been regular fighting between Muslim worshippers and Israeli police in the al Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's old city.

On multiple occasions, police have entered the site and used rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades to repel Palestinians throwing rocks and fireworks at them.

On one occasion police even went into al Aqsa mosque itself and arrested more than 150 Palestinians.

Many of them remain in detention.

The actions of Israeli police have been heavily criticised by neighbouring Jordan, which maintains official custody of al Aqsa, the third most holy site in the Islamic faith.

Two of the Palestinians killed in recent weeks were shot in the village of Husan, close to Bethlehem.

One of those was 46-year-old Ghada Sabateen, a mother of six who walked towards a makeshift Israel Defence Forces (IDF) checkpoint.

Soldiers shouted at her to stop and fired warning shots, but then shot her in the leg when she carried on towards them.

No weapons were found on her.

Her family have said they believe Ghada was murdered.

"There is no way to express my grief," Ghada's mother told Sky News.

"She was well-mannered, respectful and polite. She was top of her maths class at Bethlehem University.

"Would the soldier have done this to his mother or sister? I will not forgive him."

The IDF told Sky News "the incident is being examined" but their soldiers followed correct protocol and Ghada "received initial treatment at the scene by soldiers", however "Palestinians at the scene prevented the suspect from being evacuated for further medical treatment".

As tensions have increased, rogue elements inside Gaza have fired rockets into Israel - one landed in the town of Sderot, damaging a house but causing no serious injuries, others have been intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system.

In return, the IDF launched airstrikes against Hamas military targets, destroying weapons factories but causing no casualties.

IDF counter-terror operations continue in the West Bank, focused primarily around the northern town of Jenin.

This week one Palestinian was shot dead and 15 arrested during fighting there.

"The IDF is taking a dual approach," Richard Pater, a former IDF commander told Sky News.

"At the same time whilst they want to combat terrorism, they're also offering a policy of distinction where they want to make sure that the fabric of quality of life for regular Palestinians, for the innocent Palestinians, can go on and carry on their normal lives and we've seen this week as well, with tens of thousands of Palestinians coming in and able to pray at the mosque during Ramadan, so it's a dual approach by the IDF."

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