Palestinian youth and the Israeli military have clashed repeatedly in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem. Violence has also spread to Gaza.
Since 3 October, 21 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces. Nearly all of those killed have been 20 years old or younger, including five children aged between 11 and 17 years. Up to 1,600 have been injured.
Israeli forces opened fire on unarmed demonstrators near Khan Yunis in Gaza on 9 October, killing seven Palestinians and injuring 145. On the same day, more than 400 were injured in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Another seven Palestinians were killed on 10 October, including two children.
According to the humanitarian organisation Palestinian Red Crescent Society, in the six days between 3 and 9 October, at least 151 Palestinians were injured by live ammunition and 255 by rubber-coated steel bullets. Twenty-one were injured as a result of beatings by Israeli settlers and soldiers, while 741 were affected by tear gas inhalation.
The Red Crescent declared a state of emergency on 4 October, denouncing ongoing attacks on its staff by the Israeli military and Israeli colonists. According to the organisation, “fourteen attacks were carried out against its staff and vehicles by occupation forces and settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the past 72 hours, in a serious escalation of violations against PRCS, its teams and the humanitarian services they render”.
Since the beginning of the month, four Israelis, including two settlers, have been killed. Another 10 Israelis, including police and settlers, were injured in stabbing incidents in the past week.
The increasing violence comes in the wake of continued and deliberate provocation by Israel. Since 13 September, Israeli forces have repeatedly stormed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, attacking worshippers and causing damage to the holy site.
Known in Arabic as Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) and in Hebrew as Har HaBayit (the Temple Mount), the site is considered to be the third holiest place in Islam and the holiest in Judaism.
The primary purpose of the Israeli assaults on the compound has been to facilitate access for Israeli settlers and extremists from the Temple Mount movement, including Israel’s agriculture minister, Uri Ariel. The Temple Mount movement has repeatedly called for the destruction of the Muslim holy site and the construction of a Jewish temple in its place.
After the repeated storming of al-Aqsa, two Israeli settlers were killed in a drive-by shooting near Nablus on 1 October. In response, illegal settlers rampaged throughout the occupied West Bank, carrying out revenge attacks. The Israeli military did little to stop these.
According to the Palestinian Liberation Organisation’s Negotiations Affairs Department, between 1 and 7 October, Israeli colonists carried out 122 attacks on Palestinians. Now, as settler attacks continue, another two Israelis have been killed in a stabbing attack in East Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs has announced that more than 650 Palestinians, primarily youth, have been arrested by Israel since the beginning of October. According to the committee, most were detained during clashes with Israeli soldiers or had been arrested in raids.
Those who had been detained reported that they had been held, in some cases, for 16 hours or more – during which time they had been beaten and tortured. Many had also been denied medical attention, despite having serious injuries.
Clashes between Israeli police and Palestinian protesters have also broken out inside Israel. Palestinian youth have demonstrated in Nazareth, Afula, Ramle and a number of other cities.
Several thousand took to the streets in Nazareth in solidarity with their brethren in the occupied Palestinian territories, calling for an end to Israel’s occupation and for the establishment of a Palestinian state.