Why is violence erupting in Israel and Gaza right now?
Two main triggers triggered the current crisis.
Protests erupted after attempts were made to evict a number of Palestinians from their homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of East Jerusalem. These specific evictions have been suspended by the Supreme Court of Israel, but they are part of a long-term campaign supported by the Israeli government to move Jewish settlers to Palestinian neighborhoods in the disputed area of East Jerusalem, which has was occupied after the 1967 war and later annexed by Israel in a move that went unrecognized by the international community.
Restrictions were also placed on Palestinians during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ended on Wednesday. For years, Arab Israelis and Palestinians have gathered at the entrance to the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City to celebrate Ramadan. This year, the Israeli police erected barricades in the area and limited the number of people allowed to enter.
After a series of protests, the barricades were removed, but Israeli police then stormed the area around Al-Aqsa Mosque, also known as the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites. of Islam and Judaism, currently managed by an Islamic endowment called the Waqf. . Muslims are allowed to pray there, but Jews and Christians are not. Israeli police said they were responding to Israeli Arabs who gathered stones for use in a subsequent riot. Palestinian witnesses said the fighting began after police entered the compound and fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in the raid. Israeli police said at least 21 officers were also injured.
One of the two main Palestinian territories, the Gaza Strip, is ruled by the Hamas group. Deemed to be a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, Hamas issued an ultimatum to Israel to withdraw its forces from Sheikh Jarrah and Al-Aqsa. He then startedin Israel, inciting the Israeli army to . Tanks have also since been used by Israel to target tunnels between Gaza and Israel, according to the Israel Defense Forces.
At least 126 Palestinians in Gaza and seven Israelis have been killed so far.
Hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the West Bank, and at least 11 were shot dead by Israeli police during clashes there, according to the Associated Press.
What is different this time?
There has been no such serious escalation of violence in the region since the Israel-Gaza war in 2014, when 2,251 people were killed in Gaza, including 1,462 civilians, according to the United Nations. 67 Israeli soldiers were also killed in the fighting, along with six civilians, the UN said.
While the past week has witnessed the most significant rocket fire since then, there is a critical distinction between this conflict and the violence that is now unfolding.
Fighting has erupted in mixed Arab Jewish and Israeli communities across the country, with reports ofeach other and the violence of the crowd. Israeli President Reuven Rivlin has compared the situation to a “civil war”.
“I don’t remember, at least in my life, ever having seen such consequences within Israel’s internationally recognized borders, before the occupation which began in 1967,” said Dr HA Hellyer, a senior associate researcher at the Royal United Services Institute in London and the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington DC, told CBS News.
“It’s between citizens of the same country,” said Dr Yossi Mekelberg, associate researcher at Chatham House think tank in London.
Mekelberg said he hoped the unrest would not be used as proof that Jews and Palestinians simply cannot live together.
“They are meant to live in one place,” he told CBS News. “The question is how. It’s how to reconcile and talk to each other in a very honest and open manner. “
“Problems that go back decades”
“Last week’s showdown is not about the past week. It’s not even the last few weeks or months, ”Hellyer said. He said the underlying inequality always leaves tensions simmering just below the surface, and “when something triggers all of these underlying issues, at one point or another, it explodes.”