Israel launches Palestinian clampdown as fears of new intifada remain

Israel is launching a military crackdown on Palestinians, after a spate of deadly stabbings and attacks against Jews in Jerusalem. The move comes as Israel contemplates taking wide scale measures to try and contain the escalating violence.

Israel is under pressure to take action after two people were killed and two others, including a two-year-old toddler, were wounded in a stabbing attack in Jerusalem's Old City on Saturday evening. A few hours later a 15-year-old Israeli was stabbed near Damascus Gate in Jerusalem.

On Sunday, police restricted access to Jerusalem’s Old City. Police said that only Israeli citizens, local residents, students, tourists and employees who work in the area will be allowed to enter within the next 48 hours.

At the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, police said that Muslim prayer will be limited to males aged 50 and over. However no limitations will be imposed on female Muslim worshipers.

RT’s Paula Slier reported that the Israeli military is already carrying out retaliatory measures against Palestinians in the West Bank. 

At least a dozen Palestinians were arrested in the early hours of Sunday morning following a raid by the Israeli Defense Forces in Nablus, which is one of the largest cities in the Palestinian West Bank, she said. 

The Red Crescent, as cited by AFP has reported that 77 Palestinians have been wounded as a result of live fire and rubber bullets. 

Leading the calls for a tough response has been the head of right-wing Yisrael Beiteinu party, Avigdor Lieberman.

He has called for Israel’s security cabinet to demolish the home of every terrorist and that anyone committing a terror attack should receive the death penalty. 

Minister of Intelligence Israel Katz also announced on Sunday that “there could be a need for another Operation Defensive Shield” and that “We will toughen our measures against the Palestinians,” the Jerusalem Post reported.

He was referring to the 2002 operation, which was a response to the Second Intifada. It saw incursions by the Israeli military into numerous Palestinian cities, while curfews were imposed against Palestinians. 

However, RT’s Slier does not believe the situation has deteriorated enough to warrant comparison with the events of 13 years ago.

“The level of violence we are seeing at the moment is not at the same level of pervious Palestinian uprisings or intifadas, though it is triggering concern of a wider escalation,” she said. 

Slier added that the attacks by Palestinians on Israeli’s are exacerbating “an already tense situation that has been fuelled by clashes between Israeli police and Palestinians in the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. Israeli police have banned Palestinians who do not live in Jerusalem’s Old City from entering the area for the next two days.” 

Two Palestinian assailants, Mohammad Halabi and Fadi Aloon, who took part in stabbing attacks late Saturday-early Sunday, were killed at the scene by Israeli security forces.

The Palestinian Authority has responded by condemning Israel for a “policy of escalation.”

The Palestinian Authority government spokesman Ihab Bseiso called on the international community to intervene following “the killing of two young men in occupied Jerusalem and the series of incursions into cities and villages in the West Bank,” the Times of Israel reported.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) reported that a rocket launched from Gaza landed in southern Israel, hitting the Eshkol Regional Council. It targeted an uninhabited area and caused no damage, according to local media.

Israeli media also reported that rocket sirens were sounded in the Nahal Oz and Alumim communities near the strip.

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