Saturday, May 8, 2021

Israel Prepares For Major Escalation Within Days

Israel fears further escalation within days; Fatah warns of ‘all-out conflict’

Israel’s security establishment is preparing for several critical days in Jerusalem that could determine whether the country sees a return to calm or a major conflagration, according to media reports Saturday.

Police and the military were bracing for renewed violence a day after Jerusalem saw some of the city’s worst violence for years, with 200 Palestinians and 17 Israeli police officers wounded as hundreds rioted in the Temple Mount and cops broke into the compound to quell the unrest.

Channel 12 reported there are acute alerts of potential terror attacks in the West Bank and Jerusalem in the coming days, after a week that has seen a deadly shooting attack, a failed shooting attack on soldiers and repeated clashes in the capital that have left dozens of policemen and hundreds of Palestinians wounded.

The network cited unnamed security officials as saying that with Saturday marking the holiest night of Ramadan and Sunday-Monday seeing Jewish celebrations of Jerusalem Day, the capital could potentially see an escalation in violence that would lead to a larger conflict.

The central committee of Fatah, the movement led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, warned Saturday night that “the continuation of the settler attacks on the holy places and the homes of Palestinian residents, their expulsion and expansion of settlements — will lead to an all-out conflict in all the Palestinian territories.”

According to Channel 12, current discourse in the Palestinian street is of a “war for Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque.” The network said that in the Gaza Strip, Hamas is currently avoiding firing rockets, but that could quickly change. In the meantime, the terror group is encouraging its West Bank operatives to carry out attacks there and inflame tensions.

Israel has boosted its security presence in all potential arenas of conflict, and is also deploying Iron Dome batteries near potential targets of Gaza rockets, while also making efforts behind the scenes to calm Palestinian spirits.

Meanwhile the Walla news site reported that the Israeli Air Force has been instructed to “refresh” its target bank in the Gaza Strip and be ready for a deterioration in the security situation there.

Security officials are hoping to avoid bloodshed and deaths in the coming days that could spark wider unrest, Channel 12 said.

At the same time far-right MK Itamar Ben Gvir on Saturday called to enable policemen “to defend themselves and use weapons including live fire” against “the terrorists in the Temple Mount and throughout the country.”

Tensions have been rising across Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza for the past several weeks.

On Friday, three Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Border Police troops in the northern West Bank. Two of them were killed in the firefight and a third was critically injured. Israeli military officials said the three were en route to carry out a “major” terrorist attack on civilians inside Israel, with reports saying they were heading for Jerusalem.


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