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Confrontation in Gaza: new missile attacks from Israel on Palestine

Violence in Palestine and Israel have left dozens dead and hundreds injured during a crucial crossover between Passover and Ramadan in Jerusalem.

Flames and smoke rise during Israeli air strikes amid a flare-up of Israel-Palestinian violence, in the southern Gaza Strip, April 19, 2022 . REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

The timing of Passover and Ramadan in such close proximity was almost certain to cause tensions to spike in Israel and Palestine. Increasing pressure on Palestinians, from illegal forced evictions from homes to infractions on holy sites, has led to a reaction of an intercepted rocket strike from Gaza towards Israel.

In kind, Israeli forces pounded Gaza with strikes, an area of just under 3 million people, 1 million of which are children.

There are worries that the increase in violence will lead to fighting like that seen last year where hundreds were killed. 14 Israelis have been killed since March 22, while 25 Palestinians have been killed. 2021 saw 11 Israelis and 313 Palestinians killed, according to Israeli human rights group B’Tselem.

The Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, has been raided twice over the weekend by Israeli forces, injuring hundreds. Israeli police argue their tactics were in response to stone throwing by protestors. Palestinians contend that the presence of Israeli forces near such an important Muslim site is too provocative, especially around Ramadan.

The Al-Aqsa compound, also known as the Temple Mount, is also home to two of the holiest Jewish sites, the Wailing Wall and the Dome of the Rock.

What has the reaction been to the latest events in Jerusalem?

King Abdullah II of Jordan, who is the custodian of Muslim religious sites in east Jeruslaem, called on Israel to “stop all illegal and provocative measures” that drives “further aggravation”.

Sharing to her 51.2 million followers, American model Bella Hadid, who has Palestinian heritage, shared numerous videos of abuses by Israeli police targeting Palestinians.

“Believe me, I do not want to have to post this kind of terror. These are real IDF (Israel Defence Force) soldiers and real Palestinian people... If you want me to stop talking, they should stop killing,” she said.

“If you are trying to come up with an excuse, you are part of the problem.”

The Israeli prime minister, Naftali Bennett, said the security forces “continue to receive a free hand ... for any action that will provide security to the citizens of Israel”.

What is the status of Palestine?

Michael Lynk, the UN Special Rapporteur for the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, has described the actions of Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories as apartheid. This is the prioritisation of rights to one group over another on the basis of one’s racial-national-ethnic identity, most prominently recognised in South Africa between 1948 and 1994.

This view is supported by numerous human rights groups around the world, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International.

However, this accusation has been rejected by Israel and the US, who have protected their ally from accountability by vetoing at least 53 UN resolutions on the matter of Palestine since 1972. The last US administration under Donald Trump recognised Jerusalem, considered by the UN to be split between Israel and Palestine between west and east respectively, as the capital of Israel. The move infuriated Palestinians and was rejected by most of the world.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken recently met the leader of the Palestinian government, Mahmoud Abbas, where they discussed matters relating to relations between the nations.