Violence ensues in wake of Al-Aqsa Mosque Debacle

Violence ensues in wake of Al-Aqsa Mosque Debacle

This past Monday saw the deaths of two Palestinian teenagers amid escalating skirmishes and violence in the West Bank. A thirteen-year-old boy was killed at Rachel’s Tomb, a Jewish shrine in biblically-significant Bethlehem. Earlier that day, an eighteen-year-old had died at a protest in Tulkarm. The Israeli army, responsible for the deaths, stated that Rachel’s Tomb had been attacked by fifteen stone-throwing protesters, and that soldiers guarding the tomb responded with “riot dispersal tactics.” [1]   

These deaths are only the latest in an escalating week of violence, including four Israeli civilian deaths resulting from two separate attacks last week. More than 450 other Palestinians have been injured in protests and skirmishes over the past weekend [2]. Acts of rebellion range in intent and outcome. Attacks included the Israeli couple shot in a drive-by attack this Thursday and an arson attack last July in which a Palestinian family killed a toddler.

In response to recent events, the leader of the Palestinian Authority (a semi-autonomous group governing certain parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip), Mahmoud Abbas, called for peace, while simultaneously declaring that Israel was “taking advantage of the violence” [3]. Abbas has also appealed to the UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon to take action [4].

The conflict dates back to mid-nineteenth century Zionist movements, in which large waves of Jews migrated into what was once Palestine. While almost all of historical Palestine now belongs to Israel, both Palestine and Israel lay claim to the territory as a place of historical and religious significance. Since the 1947 UN partition of Palestine into Israel and Palestine, the territory has been fraught with tension, including wars between Israel and neighboring Arab states, numerous incidences of Palestinian displacement, and terrorist attacks on both sides [5]. The states have called on a Western diplomatic solution for reconciliation, but little progress has been made thus far. Many believe that the influence of radical groups on the volatile youngest generations will render diplomacy even harder to achieve.

by Katherine Xiong ’19