Itongadol.- Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been communicating in the past 24 hours in an attempt to calm the escalating violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a senior PA official told The Times of Israel on Monday night. The official noted that Palestinian protests in the past two days have started to draw hundreds of youths, underlining concerns, he said, “that we are witnessing the start of a third intifada.”
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening the security cabinet Monday night to discuss further steps for curbing the violence.
Four Israelis have been killed by Palestinian terrorists since Thursday, and three more injured.
Two Palestinian teenagers were killed in clashes with the security forces — an 18-year-old in Tulkarem late on Sunday, and a younger teenager, hit by Israeli gunfire in Bethlehem on Monday. The Palestinian Red Crescent has reported hundreds of Palestinians hospitalized in the past 24 hours — numbers not confirmed by Israel.
In their exchanges of messages, Israeli officials have told the PA that the Israeli security forces intend to take firmer measures to prevent settler extremist violence against Palestinians, the PA official said. The Israelis also noted that there will be a reduction in Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount as the High Holiday period comes to an end.
The PA source said that Palestinian security forces were still working to maintain calm, despite Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s declaration at the UN last week that the PA was no longer bound by its agreements with Israel. However, he said it was getting increasingly difficult for the PA to do so.
“We are witnessing the start of a third intifada, and Israel is not doing enough to rein in violence,” the PA official charged. “The number of gunfire victims hospitalized today was out of the ordinary; it’s not clear to us if there have been new rules introduced on opening fire. This certainly won’t de-escalate the situation.”
Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel is “waging a fight to the death against Palestinian terror.” He has partly blamed Abbas for inciting the escalation in violence. Abbas has alleged — including during his speech to the UN last Wednesday — that Israel is allowing “extremists” into the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and that Israel plans to change the status quo regarding access to the contested holy site. Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected these claims.
Sunday and Monday saw demonstrations and clashes with Israeli forces by Palestinians in numerous West Bank hotspots, with hundreds participating — marking the first time in this round of violence that clashes of this size have taken place beyond East Jerusalem.
Israeli security officials were also braced for demonstrations in the Israeli Arab sector on Monday night, with protests planned for Sakhnin in the lower Galilee, among other locations. Betar Jerusalem and local team Bnei Sakhnin were set to play a soccer match in the Arab city Monday night, an encounter that is routinely tense.