Dramatic footage of killings and mob violence as Israeli-Palestinian hostility erupts in Jerusalem and the West Bank

Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli security forces
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli security forces amid clashes in Jerusalem’s Old City on May 8, 2021.

  • Jerusalem has seen violent clashes between Israeli police officers, Jewish settlers and Palestinians in recent days.
  • An upcoming Supreme Court verdict and revenge attacks in the West Bank are contributing to the tension.
  • Dramatic footage from the past week offers a window into the worsening unrest.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Jerusalem and the West Bank are in a state of unrest, and the current violence between Palestinians, Israeli security forces, and Jewish settlers are the worst in years.

A spike in settler and revenge attacks, the advent of significant but politically sensitive dates, and an upcoming verdict on Palestinian evictions from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood have all contributed to an atmosphere of chaos.

Dramatic footage of recent protests, clashes, and killings offers a window into the reality of the worsening conflict.

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Killings in the West Bank

Settler violence in the occupied West Bank has risen markedly in recent months, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). There have also been notable examples of Palestinian violence towards Jewish settlers and Israeli soldiers.

  • On May 2, an Israeli soldier shot a 60-year-old Palestinian woman who attempted a knife attack, the Israeli military said. She later died of her wounds, Reuters reported.

  • Also on May 2, a Palestinian man carried out a drive-by shooting in the West Bank that killed a 19-year-old Israeli and left two other Jewish teenagers injured, France24 said.

  • Extremist Jewish settlers vandalized property and hurled stones in the occupied West Bank village of Jalud on the night of May 2, according to Israeli human rights group Yesh Din.

  • On May 5, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier. Saeed Odeh’s killing followed Palestinians in Beita hurling Molotov cocktails towards IDF soldiers, Sky News said. Large crowds attended the funeral.

  • Three Palestinian gunmen shot at Israeli border police based in the occupied West Bank early on Friday, Reuters reported. Israeli fire killed two of the Palestinians and critically wounded the third, the news agency said.

Clashes in Jerusalem

Israel’s Supreme Court will decide on upholding a ruling that would see several Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, known in Hebrew as Shimon Hatzadik, removed from their homes.

The controversial case has sparked protests, violent clashes, and unrest in the holy city.

  • On Thursday, Palestinians and Israeli settlers hurled rocks and chairs at each other in Sheikh Jarrah before Israeli police separated them, AP said.

  • Videos of police violence towards residents of Sheikh Jarrah have emerged.

  • Videos from that night showed stun grenades landing inside prayer rooms at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

  • Several buses carrying religious pilgrims on the way to Jerusalem for one of Ramadan’s holiest nights – Laylat al-Qadr – were held up at a police checkpoint on Saturday, The Washington Post reported. Many began walking to Jerusalem on foot instead, according to local media.

  • On Saturday night, over 90,000 Muslims gathered at the Al-Aqsa Mosque.

  • Following prayers, many Palestinians gathered at the Damascus Gate in the Old City of East Jerusalem. Palestinian protesters hurled stones at the police, according to the BBC. This led to clashes with Israeli security who used tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades, The National’s senior correspondent Joyce Karam said on Twitter. Palestinian medics said 90 Palestinians were wounded, while Israeli police said at least one officer was hurt.

The violence is expected to continue into next week, with the Sheikh Jarrah verdict and advent of Nakba Day and Eid al-Fitr on Wednesday likely to further escalate a very tense situation.

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Spike in revenge attacks between Jewish settlers and Palestinians adds fuel to the fire of the spiraling violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank

Palestinian protesters hurl flares amid clashes with Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa mosque.
Palestinian protesters hurl flares amid clashes with Israeli security forces at the al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2021.

  • The start of May has seen a string of violent clashes, arrests, and killings in Jerusalem and the West Bank.
  • The situation is set to get worse. Significant dates in the coming week signal further violence.
  • An upcoming court verdict about Palestinian property evictions is already causing chaos.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

After a week of violent and sometimes deadly clashes between Jewish settlers, the Israeli military, and Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, tensions and enmity are boiling over.

But the situation is only set to worsen, with several historically significant but politically sensitive dates forecast to add fuel to fuel the fire.

The advent of Jerusalem Day, Nakba Day, and the end of Ramadan – all taking place in the coming days – has prompted the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to bolster troop deployments in anticipation of further violence, The Times of Israel said.

And an upcoming Supreme Court hearing on Monday regarding the eviction of Palestinian families in East Jerusalem’s Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood threatens to exacerbate the tensions and add to the worst turmoil the region has seen in years.

Tensions have been rising during Ramadan

The Islamic month of Ramadan has been fraught with conflict in Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank. Violent clashes in the city have become a nightly occurrence during the holy period, the Associated Press reported in April.

The placement of barricades outside the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City – a popular nightly gathering point with local Palestinians after the end of the Ramadan fast – resulted in a confrontation with Israeli police and more than 100 Palestinian injuries on April 22, Insider reported.

Israeli security forces outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem's Old City
Members of the Israeli security forces deploy during clashes with Palestinian protesters outside the Damascus Gate in Jerusalem’s Old City on April 22, 2021.

On the same night, Israeli police blocked supporters of a far-right Jewish group, Lehava, as they marched through the Jerusalem streets towards the Damascus Gate. Some of the followers of the group chanted “death to Arabs,” CNN said.

In other incidents, Palestinians filmed TikTok videos. They attacked ultra-Orthodox Jews, Jewish youths attempted to set fire to a Palestinian family’s home, and a video emerged of an Israeli motorist being beaten by a Palestinian mob before his car was set ablaze.

After the riots, Palestinian militants in Gaza shot rockets into Israel. Israel retaliated by launching strikes on Hamas targets there, Insider reported.

The chaos in the Palestinian territories coincides with increased violent attacks by Israeli settlers against Palestinian civilians.

Settler violence in the occupied West Bank has risen markedly in recent months, according to a report by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). In the first three months of 2021, the OCHA recorded more than 210 incidents of settler violence in the territory.

One of the authors of the report, Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967, spoke to Insider about the motivations behind the attacks.

“There’s a very entrenched belief that’s probably shared by most settlers that this land is theirs that it has been historically and biblically granted to them,” Lynk told Insider. “Therefore, what they are carrying out is righteous violence in the name of both religion and nationalism.”

A week of violence – the timeline

The start of May has seen a string of violent clashes, arrests, and killings. Below is a comprehensive – but not exhaustive – list of recent events.

  • On May 2, an Israeli soldier shot a 60-year-old Palestinian woman who tried to carry out a knife attack, the Israeli military said. She later died of her wounds, Reuters reported. Footage of the incident shows the woman slowly approaching soldiers with a sharp weapon before being fired at.

  • Also on May 2, a Palestinian man carried out a drive-by shooting in the West Bank that killed a 19-year-old Israeli and left two other Jewish teenagers injured, France24 said.

  • After the drive-by shooting, the Israeli Defense Forces searched the occupied West Bank village of Beita for the suspect and Palestinians throwing Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers who responded with live fire, The Jerusalem Post reported. Several Palestinians were injured and at least 19 were arrested, the Israeli newspaper said.
  • Overnight, extremist Jewish settlers vandalized property and hurled stones in the West Bank village of Jalud, according to human rights groups.
  • On May 3, settlers attacked two Palestinians and vandalized properties in three separate incidents in the West Bank, according to The Jerusalem Post.
  • On May 5, a 16-year-old Palestinian boy was shot and killed by an Israeli soldier. The killing followed Palestinians in Beita, hurling Molotov cocktails towards IDF soldiers, Sky News said. “The troops responded according to open-fire protocols, including firing towards the suspects. The incident is being investigated,” an IDF spokesperson told the media outlet. A second Palestinian was shot in the back and is being treated in hospital, according to Reuters.
  • Three Palestinian gunmen shot at Israeli border police based in the occupied West Bank early on Friday, Reuters reported. Israeli fire killed two of the Palestinians and critically wounded the third, the news agency said.
  • Israeli-Palestinian clashes have broken out nightly ahead of a Monday court hearing that could see Palestinian families evicted from Sheikh Jarrah – an East Jerusalem neighborhood.
  • More than 200 Palestinian worshippers were injured after clashing with Israeli police outside the al-Aqsa mosque, a significant holy site that is sacred to Muslims and Jews, on Friday night, Insider reported.
  • At least 90 people were injured as Palestinians and Israelis clashed in Jerusalem again on Saturday night, CNN said.

Several significant dates threatening a new wave of violence

The IDF has already beefed up its forces in anticipation of a week fraught with conflict, The Jerusalem Post said. An additional battalion and special forces are to be deployed to the occupied West Bank, the paper reported.

“We have dates that offer some sort of warning that there might be a rise in violence,” Oded Revivi, the mayor of the Efrat settlement in the occupied West Bank, a community of Jewish settlers that is considered to be illegal under international law, told Insider.

One of these dates is Jerusalem Day, which starts on Sunday evening and lasts through Monday. It is an Israeli national holiday commemorating the capture and consequent establishment of Israeli control over the Old City in the aftermath of the 1967 Six-Day War.

The holiday observed by thousands of religious Zionists is controversial to secular Jews and many Arabs.

Israelis gather outside Damascus Gate on Jerusalem Day in 2019.
Israelis, including a large contingent of Jewish religious nationalists, gather outside Damascus Gate in the Old City of Jerusalem on June 2, 2019 to mark Jerusalem Day.

As part of the Jerusalem Day celebrations, an annual “Dance of Flags” parade sees participants walk through the Old City while waving Israeli flags.

This year, taking into account the rising tensions, Jerusalem’s police chief has asked for the parade to be re-routed to avoid passing through the Muslim quarter of the city.

“The passage of the parade in these two sensitive areas in the last week of Ramadan fasting, when all warnings relate to a possible flare-up due to events related to Jerusalem would be irresponsible and could claim human lives,” Israel Police’s Jerusalem District Chief Doron Turgeman told The Jerusalem Post.

It could incite a “violent outbreak” in other parts of the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip, Turgeman added.

Jerusalem Day also happens to fall on the same date as a highly-anticipated verdict by Israel’s Supreme Court on a toxic property dispute between Jews and Arabs.

The Supreme Court will decide on upholding a ruling that would see several Palestinian families in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, known in Hebrew as Shimon Hatzadik, evicted from their homes in favor of right-wing Jewish settlers that assert a historic claim to the land.

The upcoming ruling has been a flashpoint for nightly protests and violence.

On Thursday, Palestinians and Israeli settlers hurled rocks at each other in Sheikh Jarrah before Israeli police separated them, AP said.

But Amit Gilutz, a spokesperson for the Jerusalem-based human rights organization B’Tselem, told Insider that the situation in Sheikh Jarrah is just one example of the mistreatment of Palestinians.

“Settler violence rampaging all over the West Bank, a racist parade marching through Jerusalem’s Old City, and the Supreme Court granting permission to expel more Palestinian families from their homes and hand the property to settlers; all these take place with the backing and encouragement of the state,” Gilutz said.

Tensions relating to the upcoming Sheikh Jarrah verdict have also prompted threats from the leader of a Palestinian terrorist group – the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades. “This is our final warning,” Mohamed Deif, the head of Hamas’ military wing, said on Wednesday. “We will not stand idly by, and the occupation will pay a heavy price.”

Ohad Zemet, a spokesperson for the Embassy of Israel in London, has accused Hamas and the Palestinian Authority of politicizing the upcoming legal decision for personal gain.

“The Israeli judicial system is independent and will reach a just legal conclusion based on the law and the facts. It is unfortunate that the Palestinian Authority and the Hamas terrorist organization try to use this case for their own political purposes and in a bid to incite violence,” said Zemet.

Muslim holy shrine becomes a battlefield

On Friday night around 200 Palestinian worshippers were injured after clashing with Israeli police at the al-Aqsa mosque, Insider’s Kelsey Vlamis and Sarah Al-Arshani reported. Several Israeli police officers were also hurt in the clashes, according to the BBC.

Thousands of Muslims had gathered at the holy site to observe the last Friday of Ramadan. Israeli police say the clashes begun after worshippers threw rocks, according to CNN. Videos of the event show people running as Israeli forces shot rubber bullets and stun grenades.

Over 90,000 Muslim worshippers prayed at the Al-Aqsa Mosque to mark the holy night of Laylat al-Qadr on Saturday, Reuters said.

Palestinians pray on Laylat al-Qadr outside the Dome of the Rock
Palestinian devotees pray on Laylat al-Qadr (Night of Destiny) outside the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on May 8, 2021

Nearby, outside the Old City’s Damascus Gate, Palestinian protesters pelted Israeli police officers with rocks and water bottles and set barricades alight, the Associated Press reported. Officers responded by firing stun grenades and periodically firing a water cannon, the news agency said. Around 64 Palestinians were wounded, according to the AP.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abba accused Israel of “sinful attacks.”

These dates may play a part in further violence

In addition to the Sheikh Jarrah verdict and Jerusalem day, two other dates could provide the backdrop to more violence.

Nakba Day, which takes place next Saturday, is an annual Palestinian commemoration of the Nakba, or the so-called “Palestinian catastrophe.” It mourns the creation of the State of Israel in 1948, and, in the past, the day has been marked by bloodshed.

In 2011, protesters attempted to breach Israel’s borders from the occupied Palestinian Territories, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, and Jordan. At least 12 Palestinians were killed and hundreds wounded due to shootings by the Israeli Army, AFP reported.

Eid al-Fitr is the feast marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on Wednesday.

Israel’s Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtaiheld has order commanders in the Jerusalem area to “significantly” boost their forces ahead of the Ramadan celebrations, The Times of Israel said.

The international community is appealing for de-escalation

The international community has appealed for an end to the violence.

A US State Department spokeswoman told reporters that Washington was “deeply concerned about the heightened tension.”

The EU followed suit, with a spokesperson calling on authorities to “act urgently to de-escalate the current tensions” in Jerusalem. “Violence and incitement are unacceptable and the perpetrators on all sides must be held accountable,” the EU spokesperson said in a statement.

The UN’s rights office has urged Israel to call off the evictions in Sheikh Jarrah, Al Jazeera reported.

But according to Lynk, the UN’S Special Rapporteur, these types of statements aren’t enough. “I’ve called for the international community to speak louder and more forcefully,” he said.

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The story behind the distressing video of Israeli soldiers detaining Palestinian kids sheds light on the reality of living under occupation

palestinian children west bank detained
A Palestinian child is carried by an Israeli soldier to a vehicle on the outskirts of Havat Maon in the West Bank on March 10, 2021.

  • Five Palestinian children were apprehended by Israeli soldiers in southern Hebron on Wednesday.
  • The young boys were then taken to a police station where they were detained for several hours.
  • Three of the children. aged between eight and 11, are below the age of criminal responsibility in Israel.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

A video has emerged of five Palestinian children being detained by Israeli soldiers near a West Bank outpost on Wednesday afternoon.

The children, aged between eight and 13, were apprehended after settlers from the Havat Maon settlement in southern Hebron reported them to a military patrol.

The video of the incident, initially shared by the human rights nonprofit B’Tselem, shows the young boys being escorted into a vehicle by soldiers from the Israeli Defense Forces. One of the children can be seen crying and struggling as an armed soldier lifts him into the van. Another holds hands with one of his masked captors.

They’re just children, what is this?” an adult can be heard yelling at the soldiers.

The young boys are accused of attempting to steal parrots from a private property in an Israeli settlement, a spokesperson for the Israeli police told Insider.

Havat Maon is one of many settler outposts in the West Bank, considered illegal by international law, that is not authorized by the Israeli government. There have been several incidents in the area of Palestinian children being harassed by Israeli settlers while on their way to school.

Armed military personnel reportedly took the children into the settlement and questioned them about their alleged attempted theft, according to the children’s lawyer.

“They were taken to the Havat Maon illegal outpost, where the soldiers tried to get a confession from them, which is illegal,” their lawyer, Gaby Lasky, told Insider.

Both the Israeli police and Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) dispute this claim and instead insist that the young boys were immediately taken to a police station.

palestinian children soldiers west bank
A Palestinian child is escorted by an Israeli soldier to a police vehicle on the outskirts of Havat Maon in the West Bank on March 10, 2021.

After being transferred to Kiryat Arba police station, the young boys were detained for several hours. Their parents, despite multiple attempts, were unable to contact or locate their children, according to Lasky.

Israeli officials claim that the detention’s purpose was to help reunite them with their families. A spokesperson from the IDF told Insider that the boys were transferred to a police facility for “further processing” and to “locate their parents.”

This is echoed by the Israeli police force. “The minors were brought to the police, who acted in order to locate their parents that live in Palestinian territory, for several hours,” the spokesperson told Insider.

Lasky, who is representing the five boys, has said that the boys’ detention was criminal.

“Three of the kids were under the criminal age of responsibility, so they can’t detain them and they can’t take them to the police station or anywhere else. This is completely illegal,” she told insider.

The age of criminal responsibility in Israel is 12. Three of the boys are aged between eight and 11. The two older boys are 12 and 13 and are old enough to be charged with a crime.

The lawyer also believes that the use of military force on the children was unwarranted. “The way that the children were taken and made to kneel when they were detained is not only unnecessary but is also completely illegal,” Lasky told Insider.

gaby lasky lawyer israel palestine
Israeli lawyer Gaby Lasky at a Jerusalem court on September 16, 2018.

Lasky has filed a complaint with the attorney general of the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Israeli police.

All five boys were initially summoned for further questioning, according to their lawyer. While the two older boys will be interrogated on Sunday, the three younger children had their summons canceled after an objection by their lawyer, Lasky told Insider.

The human rights organization B’Tselem, whose activists were at the scene, has said that the incident shines a light on the reality of life under occupation.

“It is part of the routine of the occupation for incidents like this, as absurd as they are, to take place,” Amit Gilutz, a B’Tselem spokesperson, told Insider. “It is a reflection of the absolute disregard Israeli authorities hold for the wellbeing of Palestinians.”

“No matter what these children were doing in the vicinity of the settlements,” he added, “they shouldn’t have been arrested by military force.”

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