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A guard from a settlement in the occupied West Bank was killed in an attack on Friday evening, after a day of fresh clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police on the esplanade of the Mosques in East Jerusalem. The violence in the Palestinian Territories and in Israel has been going on for more than a month.
New episode of violence in the Palestinian Territories. A guard in his twenties, stationed at the entrance to the settlement of Ariel, in the northern occupied West Bank, was shot and killed on Friday evening April 29 by two assailants who fled by car , the Israeli army and emergency services said.
In the process, the Israeli security forces launched an operation to try to find the two assailants in neighboring areas.
For its part, the Palestinian Ministry of Health announced the death of a Palestinian aged in his twenties, the target of a “live ammunition” shot during an operation by the Israeli army in the locality of Azzoun, located about twenty kilometers from Ariel, without however specifying whether these clashes were linked to the ongoing manhunt.
The Gaza Strip’s ruling Islamist movement Hamas hailed Ariel’s attack as a “heroic operation”, saying it was “part of our people’s response to the attacks on al -Aqsa”, referring to the recent violence on the esplanade of the Mosques of Jerusalem.
New clashes on the esplanade of the Mosques
Friday saw new clashes on this site considered the third holiest site in Islam and the holiest in Judaism under its name of Temple Mount.
According to the Palestinian Red Crescent, 42 Palestinians were injured “during clashes with the occupying forces”, of which 22 were hospitalized, the police having fired rubber bullets and tear gas canisters according to witnesses.
Israeli forces entered the esplanade and used “means to disperse the crowd”, after “rioters” had “thrown stones and set off fireworks”, some trying to throw stones at the Wall of Lamentations, another Jewish holy site located below, police said while reporting arrests.
Located in the old city of East Jerusalem, a Palestinian sector of the Holy City occupied and annexed by Israel, the esplanade is administered by Jordan but its access is controlled by Israel.
Over the past two weeks, clashes have left nearly 300 Palestinians injured in and around the esplanade of the Mosques.
Deadly escalation in just over a month
The violence comes in a context of escalation after a series of anti-Israeli attacks that left 15 dead, including an Israeli Arab policeman and two Ukrainians, since March 22. Two of the attacks were perpetrated in the Tel Aviv area by Palestinians from the West Bank, a territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
In the wake of these attacks, the Israeli army carried out several operations in the West Bank punctuated by deadly clashes. A total of 27 Palestinians and three Israeli Arabs were killed, including attackers.
The new clashes in Jerusalem also took place on the day of the celebration of the “Day of Al-Quds” (Jerusalem in Arabic), initiated by Iran in the wake of the Islamic revolution of 1979.
Demonstrations took place in Iran, an enemy country of Israel, as well as in Iraq, Syria and other countries in the region, in solidarity with the Palestinians.
“Iran supports the Palestinian resistance and denounces the normalization (with Israel). What some Arab countries have done is a betrayal”, declared on this occasion the Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei in reference to several Arab countries having normalized these two their relations with the Jewish state in recent years.
“Jerusalem will remain at the center of the conflict with the enemy”, according to Hamas
On Thursday, tenors of the Palestinian armed organizations of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, close to Iran, held a rally in the Gaza stadium to call for “defending” Jerusalem and the esplanade of the Mosques.
“Jerusalem will remain at the center of the conflict with the (Israeli) enemy,” Hamas said Friday, saying the “enemy’s plans for Judaization, desecration and division” were doomed to failure.
The deployment of Israeli police forces and the presence on the esplanade during Ramadan of many Jews, authorized to visit the place at specific times but without praying there according to the status quo in force, were widely perceived by Palestinians and several countries in the region as a gesture of “provocation”.
Israel “will not change” the status quo on the esplanade of the Mosques, assured Sunday its head of diplomacy Yaïr Lapid, stressing that the police interventions on the esplanade were “justified”.