More bloodshed as Jerusalem tensions rise

  • 27/10/2015
Palestinian stone-throwers take position during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Bet El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah (Reuters)
Palestinian stone-throwers take position during clashes with Israeli troops near the Jewish settlement of Bet El, near the West Bank city of Ramallah (Reuters)

Fresh anti-Israeli violence has resulted in the shooting deaths of three Palestinians in the West Bank, while efforts to douse tensions over Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque compound by installing cameras at the site ran into trouble.

A surge of violence in the conflict showed no sign of abating as Palestinians, most of them teenagers from the powder-keg city of Hebron, staged more lone-wolf knife attacks against Israeli soldiers and clashed with troops in the occupied West Bank.

Stabbings and violent protests have become daily occurrences since simmering tensions over the status of the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City boiled over in early October, leaving scores dead.

On Monday night (local time), Israel said it carried out an air strike against two Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip after a rocket fired from across the border crashed into an open field, without causing any injuries.

An intense diplomatic drive to calm spiralling violence that many fear heralds a new Palestinian intifada saw Israel agree on Saturday to install surveillance cameras at the highly sensitive holy site.

However the measure, which US Secretary of State John Kerry described as a "game changer", quickly hit its first obstacle.

The Jordanian-run trust which administers the site, known as the Waqf, complained that when its officials showed up to install the cameras early on Monday, they were blocked by Israeli police.

"We consider the matter evidence that Israel wants to install cameras that only serve its own interests," said Waqf.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hit back in a statement, arguing arrangements to install the cameras "were supposed to be coordinated at the professional level".

The Al-Aqsa mosque compound is in east Jerusalem which was seized from Jordan in the 1967 war.

While Amman has retained custodial rights over the holy sites, Israel controls access.

The compound is considered the third holiest site in Islam and is revered by Jews as their holiest site, known as the Temple Mount.

Palestinians have reacted coolly to the camera idea, with the Palestinian Liberation Organisation accusing Israel of seeking to "use it against the Palestinians".

The latest violence flared in September as Muslims protested an increase in Jewish visitors to Al-Aqsa, fuelling long-running fears Israel wanted to change the rules governing the compound allowing Jews to visit, but not to pray there.

This spiralled into a series of knife attacks and shootings by young Palestinians that has left eight Israelis dead since October 1.

In Hebron on Monday the army said one Palestinian man stabbed an Israeli soldier in the neck before being shot dead by soldiers, the army said.

Another Palestinian attacker, 19, allegedly tried to stab a soldier, and was shot dead.

Palestinian police and hospital sources said a 17-year-old was shot dead when clashes erupted near Hebron, but the cause of the protest was not given.

Monday's violence took the number of Palestinians killed in attempted attacks and clashes to 56. An Israeli Arab attacker has also been killed.

AFP