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What’s Behind the Recent Crackdown by Israeli Forces?

The latest confrontations, beginning a month ago, worsened with the Israeli forces blocking Palestinian gathering.

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At least 21 Palestinians, including nine children, were killed and 65 others wounded, on Monday night, 10 May, after Israel launched airstrikes on the besieged Gaza Strip, in retaliation to the rockets launched towards Israel by the militant group Hamas, Al Jazeera reported.

Hamas had given an ultimatum demanding Israel to stand down its forces from the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which saw violent confrontations over the weekend, including the storming of forces inside the main prayer hall.

The Israeli security force on Monday stormed the Al-Aqsa mosque in East Jerusalem for the third straight day, escalating the tensions further.

More than 300 Palestinians were wounded, according to the Palestine Red Crescent society, as Israel used fired rubber bullets, stun grenades, and tear gas. Monday also marked Jerusalem Day, Israel's annual remembrance of its capture of East Jerusalem during the 1967 war.

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Scenes of violent confrontation between the Jews and Palestinians have become a common sight, as the city remains to be one of the most contested place on Earth. The latest crackdown, beginning a month ago, worsened with the Israeli forces blocking Palestinian gathering. This was further fuelled by a contentious Israeli Supreme Court hearing.

WHAT LED TO THE WEEKEND CONFRONTATIONS?

Starting mid-April, tensions mounted during the holy month of Ramadan, with Palestinians complaining of ‘oppressive restrictions’ imposed by Israel.

Continuing nightly confrontations turned ugly on 7 May, the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, when at least 215 Palestinians and 17 officers were injured, reported Reuters.

The Israeli police resorted to firing rubber bullets and stun-grenades to stop the rock-hurling Palestinians.

On Sunday, 9 May, an Israeli Supreme Court hearing was due in a legal case, on whether several Palestinians would be evicted and their homes be given to Israeli settlers in Sheikh Jarrah, a neighbourhood near Damascus Gate.

“I think if this continues, if they continue to try to occupy us, it can spark war in all of Israel, both sides of the Green Line, and all of the region.” 
Abdel Fattah Sqaffe to Washington Post

However, the ruling was deferred as it could have inflamed the situation further.

According to a Human Rights Group, the hearing was aimed at pushing Palestinians out of Jerusalem to preserve a Jewish majority.

WHEN DID THE PROTESTS START?

Confrontations were reported throughout the month of Ramadan, marred with violence with the first trigger in mid-April when Israel blocked a popular spot, where Muslims traditionally gather at the end of their fast.

Barriers were put up at the walled old city’s Damascus gate, which Palestinians say act as a restriction on their freedom to assemble. In the backdrop of the imminent eviction, the skirmishes intensified on Friday, 7 May, when Israeli police cracked down on protesting Palestinians with scuffles near Sheikh Jarrah.

The Israeli police even used water cannons to disperse protestors gathered near the families facing eviction.

INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION

The Israeli crackdown has drawn global criticism with the UN, US, and European Union weighing in.

The White House on Sunday, in a statement said, ‘Mr Sullivian (Us National Security Advisor) reiterated the United States’ serious concerns about the potential eviction of Palestinian families from their homes in Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood’.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also expressed ‘deepest concern over the continuing violence in occupied East Jerusalem and the possible eviction of Palestinian families from their homes’, said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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