BFF-39,40 Israel-Palestinian tensions simmer ahead of US envoy visit

320

ZCZC

BFF-39

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS

Israel-Palestinian tensions simmer ahead of US envoy visit

JERUSALEM, May 24, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – Israeli forces shot dead a
knife attacker in Jerusalem Monday, police said, as a ceasefire holds
in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza ahead of a visit by Washington’s
top diplomat.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken left Washington around noon
local time and is due to arrive in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning, days
after an Egypt-brokered truce halted the conflict between the Jewish
state and the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

US President Joe Biden said his top envoy will meet “with Israeli
leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” as well
as seeking to rebuild ties with the Palestinians.

While Gaza remained calm on Monday, Israeli police said an attacker
stabbed two young Israeli men in Jerusalem before police shot him
dead.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said that Israeli forces had shot dead
a 17-year-old Palestinian high school student from occupied east
Jerusalem.

Hadassah medical centre in Jerusalem said it was treating two men in
their twenties for stab wounds. Both were in a stable condition and
one was identified by the army as a soldier.

The 11-day conflict with Hamas in Gaza sparked inter-communal
tensions in Israel itself between Jewish and Arab citizens of
Palestinian descent, and amplified protests across the occupied West
Bank.

Overnight Israeli forces rounded up 43 Palestinians in the West Bank
and annexed east Jerusalem, including 27 in the latter, the
Palestinian Prisoners Club rights group said.

Israeli police, who operate in east Jerusalem, said late Sunday that
they had arrested 1,550 suspects and had charged 150 over the past two
weeks over “violent events”.

– Sheikh Jarrah flashpoint –

Monday’s fatal altercation took place a short distance from the
occupied east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the site of
regular protests against the expulsion of Palestinians from their
homes in favour of Jewish settlers.

MORE/MRU/2310hrs

ZCZC

BFF-40

ISRAEL-PALESTINIANS-TWO LAST

Tensions there built earlier this month to culminate in repeated
clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli security forces
inside the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, triggering initial
volleys of rocket fire from Gaza on May 10.

Subsequent Israeli air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 248
Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded over 1,900 people,
the Gaza health ministry says.

Rocket and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel,
including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, an Israeli soldier,
one Indian, and two Thai nationals, medics say. Some 357 people in
Israel have been wounded.

There is controversy about how many of those killed in Gaza were
combatants, and how many were civilians.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the bombing
campaign had killed “more than 200 terrorists” in Gaza.

– ‘Years of neglect’ –

Alongside meeting Israeli leaders, Biden said his secretary of state
would also engage with the Palestinians.

Relations between Washington and the Palestinian Authority fell
apart under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who recognised Jerusalem
as Israel’s capital — a move that broke with decades of international
consensus.

Blinken “will continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties
to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years
of neglect,” the US president said.

Biden said last week his country was committed to helping provide
humanitarian relief and supporting reconstruction in Gaza “in a manner
that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal”.

The office of Israel’s defence minister announced Monday Israeli
authorities had seized various materials bound for Gaza before the
latest war.

“Their suspected destination was a Hamas military wing’s
manufacturing site,” Benny Gantz’s office said in a statement.

It added that he had also signed orders to seize millions of shekels
in gold discovered in foiled smuggling attempts from Gaza to the West
Bank, amid suspicions Hamas was using it to fund “terrorism” there.

Israel’s air campaign has ravaged Gaza’s infrastructure, as well as
made at least 6,000 people homeless, the UN’s humanitarian agency
says.

Up to 800,000 are without access to clean water in the coastal
enclave, which has been under blockade since 2007.

In Gaza city on Monday, several men helped Nazmi Al-Dahdouh set up a
tent on the mounds of rubble where his home stood before it was hit by
an Israeli air strike.

“Where else should I go?” said the elderly man in a long robe and
white skull cap.

“I will live here. I will either die, or live, or they will bombard me again.”

BSS/AFP/MRU/2310hrs