Palestinian leader must 'condemn' violence wave – US

  • 16/10/2015
A Palestinian protester throws back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops (Reuters)
A Palestinian protester throws back a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops (Reuters)

Israeli security forces have deployed massively in Jerusalem as Jews armed themselves with everything from guns to broomsticks, rattled by a wave of Palestinian attacks.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterated his willingness to meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, while accusing him of inciting and encouraging violence.

"It's time that president Abbas stops not only justifying it, but also calling for it," Netanyahu told reporters.

US Secretary of State John Kerry also warned the Palestinian leader not to incite violence.

"No amount of frustration is appropriate to license any violence anywhere at any time. No violence should occur. And the Palestinians need to understand," he told NPR News in a radio interview to air Friday (local time).

"President Abbas has been committed to non-violence. He needs to be condemning this, loudly and clearly," said Kerry, who plans to travel to the region "in the coming days" to try to calm tempers.

Abbas has called for peaceful protest, but frustrated Palestinian youths have defied attempts to restore calm.

The UN Security Council will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss the two-week upsurge in violence that has raised fears that a third Palestinian intifada, or uprising, might erupt.

Israel has mobilised some 300 soldiers to reinforce police stretched thin by the unrest.

The last time soldiers deployed in such large numbers was in 2002, during the second intifada, according to a security source.

At stops along the highway between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Hebron, a major junction to other points in the occupied territory, border police were boarding and searching every bus.

In addition to the attacks, violent protests have rocked annexed east Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Thursday marked a rare respite from the violence.

However, Palestinians were calling for a day of protests in the West Bank and Gaza Strip after Friday's main weekly Muslim prayers.

Seven Israelis have been killed and dozens wounded in the violence so far.

At least 30 Palestinians have also died, including alleged attackers, and hundreds more been wounded in clashes with Israeli forces.

In the first two intifadas, in 1987-1993 and 2000-2005, thousands of people were killed and many more hurt in near daily violence.

Israel's best-selling newspaper, Yediot Aharonot, included photos Thursday of Jews arming themselves with even broomsticks and rolling pins, as gun sellers said demand had skyrocketed.

Shahr Omraq, 51, a cleaner from east Jerusalem, said the unrest has made him and other Palestinians objects of Israeli hostility.

"Everyone suspects us," he told AFP. "Racism is growing."

The attackers seem to be mostly acting on their own. With no mastermind to pursue, that poses a major challenge to security forces.