EU envoy: Ethiopian leadership vowed to 'wipe out' Tigrayans    Palestinians cancel deal for near-expired COVID vaccines from Israel    EU threatens Lebanese politicians with sanctions over crisis    Brazil still debating dubious virus drug amid 500,000 deaths    Biden promotes milestone of 300M vaccine shots in 150 days    Early header secures 1-0 win for Argentina against Uruguay    Hardline judge Raisi leads in Iranian presidential election, says official    LIVE: Esperance (Tunisia) v Ahly (Egypt) (African Champions League semis)    Portugal defender Dias says demanding season motivated him for Euros    'Ethiopia stabbed Sudan in the back with GERD's first filling': Sudanese FM    Egypt's central bank holds interest rates for fifth straight month amid global price spike    Egypt's first electric car Nasr E70: manufacturer, specs, photos, price    Egypt, UNFPA discuss boosting cooperation towards achieving Vision 2030    Egypt's General Intelligence chief meets top Libyan officials in Tripoli    South Korea organises forum on Egypt's tax, customs reforms    AfDB approves €83m loan to Egypt's Electricity,Green Growth Programme    Air Canada launches non-stop year-round service from Montreal to Cairo    Egypt contributes largely to peacekeeping, peacebuilding across world: Elena Panova    Egyptian technical teams, reconstruction equipment continue to flow into Gaza    Egypt's Al-Sisi orders humanitarian aid to Lebanon    UEFA asks Euro 2020 teams to stop removing sponsor bottles    Huawei announces establishment of CNCC to develop smart solutions for enterprises    Egypt will not allow anyone to harm its water rights: ECSS    Ever Given Ship insurer in 'serious and constructive negotiations' with Egypt over compensation    UNFPA Egypt announces actress Amina Khalil as honorary ambassador %    Egypt, WHO discuss approval for domestically produced COVID-19 vaccine    Egypt inaugurates 4th batch of 'Start your Dream' workshop    Ethiopia rejects Arab League resolution supporting Egypt, Sudan on GERD issue    Europe understands aspects of Ethiopian dam issue: Shoukry    Netherlands battle Austria for group lead in Euro 2020    Portugal's Cristiano Ronaldo scores his 11th Euro goal beating previous record    Zamalek face Aswan in Egyptian Premier League    Cairo Opera's hall showcases first exhibition of Egyptian artist Sherif Nashed    Researchers warn of Ethiopian dam's impacts on Egypt's agriculture, economy    Egypt's Taliaa Theatre to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2022    Egyptian Ramadan series 'Leabet Newton' receives certificate of appreciation    Egyptian filmmaker Sameh Alaa selected for Cannes short films' jury    Don't miss Sudanese singer Asia Madani's concert at Cervantes Institute    APO Group enters new exclusive agreement with Getty Images on African press releases and images    Egypt is on short list of partner countries for U.S. COVID-19 vaccines: embassy    Russia to resume charter flights to Egypt resorts in the coming days    Biden administration to send surplus U.S. COVID-19 vaccines to Egypt, several countries    Russia expects to resume charter flights to Egypt resorts in near future    Egypt's Sisi announces allocation of $500 million for reconstruction in war-wrecked Gaza    On International Museum Day, Egypt opens two new museums at Cairo Airport    Egypt's Ahly is establishing a new stadium, expected to be 'sports complex'    Old Cairo's Al-Fustat will be revamped on Egyptian President's directives    Veteran Egyptian journalist Makram Mohamed Ahmed passes away at 86    

Thank you for reporting!
This image will be automatically disabled when it gets reported by several people.

New players pose additional threats to Jerusalem tensions
Published in Ahram Online on 25 - 04 - 2021

The holy city of Jerusalem, a tinderbox of competing religious and political claims, has repeatedly triggered bouts of Israeli-Palestinian violence.
This time around, there have been some additional sparks, including Jewish extremists who, emboldened by their political patrons' recent election to parliament, staged a provocative march to Jerusalem's walled Old City chanting ``death to the Arabs.''
Over the course of a few days, nightly Jerusalem street brawls between Israeli police and disaffected Palestinian residents of the city escalated to cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza's Islamic militant Hamas. Gaza militants fired an intense barrage of rockets into southern Israel and Israel launched several airstrikes at Gaza.
Political posturing by Israeli and Palestinian leaders has added to the tense atmosphere.
Here is a closer look at what's been driving the violence:
Israel captured east Jerusalem, along with the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians claim all three areas for a future independent state, with east Jerusalem as their capital.
Israel annexed east Jerusalem, home to the city's most sensitive Jewish, Muslim and Christian holy sites, after the war and views the entire city as its unified capital.
The fate of Jerusalem and its holy sites is one of the most explosive issues in the conflict, and the city has seen many waves of violence over the years.
The immediate spark for the current round of unrest was Israel's decision to barricade a plaza outside of Jerusalem's Old City during the holy month of Ramadan.
That decision appeared to have been reversed late Sunday, when the barricades were suddenly removed, setting off joyous celebrations outside Damascus Gate.
Palestinians traditionally gather at the spot each evening after prayers and a daylong fast.
Angry that their popular gathering spot was taken away, hundreds of young Palestinian men have taken to the streets each evening. Crowds have hurled stones, firebombs and other objects at police, while officers have used stun grenades and water cannons to disperse them. Dozens of people have been hurt.
Israel's apparent reversal late Sunday could help calm tensions. Crowds clapped and chanted ``God is great'' as people sat on the steps once again. There were no signs of violence, and police did not interfere.
The crackdown in recent weeks had touched on Palestinian fears that Israel is trying to deepen its control over east Jerusalem.
``All we wanted to do is to be able to sit on the stairs of Damascus Gate at night to drink coffee or tea,'' said Rami, a 24-year-old resident who asked that his last name be withheld because he feared arrest.
``It's a tradition for Old City residents to go outside for refreshments. My father used to sit on the stairs of Damascus Gate before me,'' he said before the spot was opened. ``What police are trying to do is simply erase our identity.''
On Thursday night, a far-right Israeli group called Lehava staged a massive demonstration just a few hundred meters (yards) from the Palestinian crowds.
It said the march was a response to TikTok videos showing Palestinians slapping religious Jews at random. But the group's leader is a disciple of the late Rabbi Meir Kahane, who promoted the forced expulsion of Palestinians from the Holy Land. Although police kept the sides apart, Lehava protesters chanted ``Death to Arabs'' and ``Arabs Get Out.''
Early Saturday, Gaza militants responded by firing 36 rockets into Israel, the most intense barrage in over a year. Israel retaliated with a series of airstrikes on Hamas targets.
Politics at Play?
With the Palestinians scheduled to hold elections next month, both President Mahmoud Abbas and his Hamas rivals have tried to portray themselves as defenders of Jerusalem.
Abbas is threatening to postpone the election unless Israel allows Palestinians in east andJerusalem to vote. It has not announced its position but appears unlikely to cave in. That could give Abbas, whose Fatah party is expected to do poorly, a pretext to cancel the vote. But it could also heighten tensions in Jerusalem.
While Hamas is not believed to be directly involved in the latest rocket fire, it has done little to stop it, and may be tacitly encouraging it, as a message of solidarity with Jerusalem Palestinians.
Netanyahu, meanwhile, is desperately trying to hold on to power after Israeli elections last month ended in deadlock for a fourth consecutive time.
Netanyahu has courted the support of ``Religious Zionism,'' a far-right party with loose ties to Lehava. This outreach appears to have emboldened Lehava. With just over a week to form a new coalition, Netanyahu seems unlikely to rein in the group or its supporters.
``The question lurking in the background is to what extent has Netanyahu's failure to form a coalition shaped the clashes and the government's reaction,'' commentator Nadav Eyal wrote in the Yediot Ahronot daily. ``There are simply too many matches that might get lit.''
Cooler Heads?
Israel's decision to allow the Palestinians to remove the barriers late Sunday appeared to be aimed at easing tensions.
Earlier, both Israel and Hamas have signaled they want to cool things down.
Late Saturday, rocket fire out of Gaza resumed, but at a much lower rate, with only four projectiles launched. Israel decided not to retaliate, and the rocket fire subsided.
At the same time, Netanyahu appealed for quiet in Jerusalem. ``Right now we demand that the law be followed; I call on all sides to display calm,'' he said.
Jordan, which acts as the custodian over Jerusalem's Muslim holy sites, and Egypt issued a joint call on Sunday for Israel to ``stop all attacks and provocative measures'' in Jerusalem.
The Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers discussed the tensions in a phone call and jointly condemned ``violence and incitement carried out by extremist groups against the Palestinians,'' the Jordanian foreign ministry said.
The Palestinian protests in Jerusalem have been dominated by local residents and do not appear to have an organized leadership.
While it was impossible to predict whether the clashes will end, the initial reaction to the removal of the barriers outside the Old City appeared to be a positive sign.

Clic here to read the story from its source.