At least 126 Palestinians and seven Israelis have so far been killed in the most severe violence to occur in the region in years. Here’s a look at why it’s happening.
Why is violence flaring up in Israel and Gaza right now?
There were two main triggers that ignited the current crisis.
Protests erupted after attempts were made to evict a number of Palestinians from their homes in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah. Those specific evictions have been paused by Israel’s Supreme Court, but they’re part of a long-term campaign supported by the Israeli government to move Jewish settlers into Palestinian neighborhoods in the disputed area of east Jerusalem, which was occupied after the 1967 war and later annexed by Israel in a move that has not been recognized by the international community.
There were also restrictions imposed on Palestinians during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, which ended on Wednesday. For years, Israeli-Arabs and Palestinians have gathered at the Damascus Gate entrance to Jerusalem’s Old City to celebrate during Ramadan. This year, Israeli police erected barricades in the area and restricted the number of people permitted to enter.
After a series of protests the barricades were removed, but then Israeli police stormed the area around the Al-Aqsa Mosque, also known as the Temple Mount, one of the holiest sites in Islam and Judaism, currently managed by an Islamic endowment called the Waqf. Muslims are allowed to pray there, but Jews and Christians are not. The Israeli police said they were responding to Israeli Arabs having gathered stones to use in a later riot. Palestinian witnesses said fighting began after police entered the compound and fired tear gas, stun grenades and rubber bullets.
Hundreds of Palestinians were injured in the raid. The Israeli police said at least 21 officers were also hurt.