Israel-Palestine: Another night of fear and unrest for Palestinians

Palestinian youths are placed under arrest by Israeli forces in the city of Lod (Lydda) overnight (AFP)

Lubna Mararwa a.o.

Middle East Eye  /  May 14, 2021

Police carried out arrests and far-right Israeli groups clashed with Palestinian youths in Israel and occupied East Jerusalem.

It was another night of tension for Palestinian communities in Israel and the occupied territories, as Israeli police carried out arrests and far-right Israeli groups clashed with Palestinian youths.

Thursday night was the fourth continuous day of unrest in the region, with Israel carrying out a bombing campaign in Gaza concurrent with a crackdown on Palestinian protesters in its territory, as well as in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The attack on Gaza has killed at least 119 Palestinians, including 31 children and 19 women, with hundreds more wounded. At least seven Israelis have been killed in attacks launched by Palestinian armed groups based in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Tensions stem from Israeli settler attempts to appropriate Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem with the backing of Israeli authorities. Protests against the theft of property have been met with a severe Israeli crackdown, including an attack on one of Islam’s most sacred sites, Al-Aqsa Mosque, on the holiest night of the Islamic calendar, Laylat al-Qadr.

Israel

On Thursday night moving into Friday morning, there were clashes in Palestinian towns and communities across Israel.

These include the towns of: Nazareth, Sakhnin, al-Raynah, Shfaram, al-Taybah, Ararat al-Muthalath, Tamra, Haifa, al-Ba’nah, Deir al-Assad, Kafr Qara, Qalansuah, Araba, Baqa al-Gharbiyya, Kawkab Abu al-Hija, Tuba al-Zangariya, Kafr Manda, Jadidah al-Makr, Yafa al-Nazareth, Kafr Kanna, Sha’ab and Jaffa.

The violence between Israeli ultra-nationalists, including settler groups, and Palestinian youths involved stone throwing and in some instances exchange of gunfire. These clashes were in addition to an Israeli police crackdown on Palestinian protesters.

In Acre, known as Akka to Palestinians, Middle East Eye’s correspondent on the scene reported the setting up of checkpoints at roads leading into the city, which were manned by heavily armed soldiers. Israeli forces were carrying out ID checks before allowing residents in. 

In Lod, known as Lydd to Palestinians, police enforced a second night of curfew between 8pm and 3am.

The mixed-town, previously home to a large Palestinian population that was expelled during the Nakba, has been a flashpoint of the current unrest.

Israeli Minister of Defence Benny Gantz has extended the “state of emergency” in the city, as Israeli hardliners fired on Palestinian homes. At least one Israeli ultra-nationalist was wounded after Palestinian residents defended their communities, according to MEE sources.

In the northern city of Haifa, Palestinian youths gathered to defend their communities from far-right mobs. One local told MEE that extremists entered the Wadi al-Jamal neighbourhood in cars and motorcycles lobbing incendiary devices towards Arab homes.

Meanwhile, police shot and wounded an 18-year-old Palestinian protester.

Occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem

The scenes were repeated in Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Around 20 Palestinians were wounded by live ammunition in the occupied West Bank with one of the injuries described as serious. There have also been dozens of reports of injuries caused by the inhalation of tear gas during protests. 

Major Palestinian cities where protests took place include Nablus, Ramallah, Hebron, Tulkarem, Qalqilya and Jenin.

In occupied East Jerusalem, settlers roamed the streets of Sheikh Jarrah throwing stones at Palestinian property and attacking individuals caught in their way.

One elderly Palestinian man was injured when he was struck by a stone, while a younger Palestinian man was shot north of the Old City.

Gaza

Israel continued to bomb the Gaza Strip with air strikes and artillery on Friday, as it prepared the deployment of troops and tanks near the besieged enclave.

Palestinians in Gaza City were forced to leave their houses on Friday morning as fears of a full-scale offensive mounted. 

On Thursday evening, the UN Relief and Works Agency, which is responsible for the welfare of Palestinian refugees, said four of its buildings, including two schools were extensively damaged by Israeli attacks.

Three towers used for mix residential and commercial use have also been destroyed by Israel since the bombing campaign began on Sunday.

Armed groups in the area, including Hamas, have launched rockets and anti-tank missiles towards Israel from the territory.

Lubna Masarwa is a journalist and Middle East Eye’s Palestine and Israel bureau chief, based in Jerusalem