Israel-Palestine tensions mount
Radio New Zealand International
October 14, 2015 6:08 pm
Israeli forces have begun a major security operation in Arab areas of occupied East Jerusalem, after a surge in attacks by Palestinians.
On Wednesday morning, police blocked entrances to Jabal Mukaber, a district where three men accused of killing three Israelis on Tuesday came from.
The Israeli military also deployed hundreds of soldiers to assist.
Later, police said they shot dead a Palestinian who stabbed an Israeli woman at Jerusalem’s main bus station.
A Palestinian also attempted to stab a policeman at the Damascus Gate of the walled Old City, but was shot dead by police, they added.
Since the beginning of October, seven Israelis have been killed and dozens wounded in shooting and stabbing attacks, the Israeli authorities say.
At least 30 Palestinians have also been killed, including assailants, and hundreds have been injured, according to the Palestinian health ministry.
‘Recipe for harassment’
On Tuesday night, Israel’s security cabinet authorised police to close or surround “centres of friction and incitement” in Jerusalem.
It also announced that the homes of Palestinians who attacked Israelis would be demolished within days and never rebuilt, and that their families’ right to live in Jerusalem would be taken away.
On Wednesday morning, a police spokeswoman told the AFP news agency that checkpoints were being set up at “the exits of Palestinian villages and neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem”.
Israeli newspapers later reported that several entrances to Jabal Mukaber had been blocked by police, with neither people nor vehicles allowed in or out.
Several more areas were expected to be closed off by the end of the day.
Human Rights Watch warned on Tuesday night that locking down parts of East Jerusalem would “infringe upon the freedom of movement of all Palestinian residents rather than being a narrowly tailored response to a specific concern”.
“The checkpoints are a recipe for harassment and abuse,” said Sari Bashi, the group’s Israel/Palestine country director, in a statement.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it was preparing to deploy six companies to assist police. Three hundred soldiers are already providing additional security under police command.
The security cabinet’s decisions were made after the bloodiest day in Jerusalem since the latest wave of unrest began in early October.
In Tuesday’s first attack, two Palestinian men boarded a bus and began shooting and stabbing passengers, killing two Israelis, police said. Police shot dead one of the assailants and wounded the other.
Just a few minutes later, another Palestinian rammed his car into a bus stop before getting out and stabbing people. The attacker was fatally shot by a security guard.
There were also two separate knife attacks in Raanana, a town in central Israel. Police identified the assailants as Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.
Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli soldiers meanwhile continued in the West Bank after Palestinian activists called for a “day of rage”.
Palestinian medics said one Palestinian was killed by Israeli fire in Bethlehem.
The BBC’s Yolande Knell in Jerusalem says the violence, coming at a time when peace prospects seem dim, has fuelled a sense of panic in Israel and raised fears of a new Palestinian uprising, or intifada.