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Deadly flare-up between Israel and Palestinians

By AFP - May 15,2021 - Last updated at May 15,2021

Plumes of smoke rise above buildings hit by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, on Saturday (AFP photo)

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM — Israel and the Palestinians have been mired since early May in one of their biggest flare-ups in violence in recent years, after weeks of tensions in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem.

A timeline:

Palestinian eviction threat 

 

On the evening of May 3, clashes erupt in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, sparked by a years-long bid by Jewish settlers to take over Arab homes.

On May 6, Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Spain call on Israel to end its settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territories and expulsions from East Jerusalem.

Clashes at Al Aqsa Mosque compound 

Major clashes break out on May 7 as tens of thousands of Muslim worshippers pack the revered Al Aqsa Mosque compound — holy to Jews as the Temple Mount — to pray on the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

According to Israeli forces, Palestinians hurl stones, bottles and fireworks at officers, who fire rubber-coated bullets and tear gas.

Video footage shows Israeli forces storming the mosque’s sprawling plaza and firing sound grenades inside the building.

New clashes took place over the following days in other parts of Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem.

On May 10, hundreds of Palestinians and 32 Israeli police officers are wounded in renewed clashes, mainly in the mosque compound.

The violence coincides with what Israel calls “Jerusalem Day”, marking its 1967 seizure of the city’s eastern sector.

Israel-Hamas escalation 

On the evening of May 10, the Islamist movement Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, launches volleys of rockets towards Israel, which responds with deadly strikes on the Palestinian enclave.

The next day, Hamas rains rockets down on the Israeli city of Tel Aviv after an Israeli air strike destroys a 12-storey building in Gaza City housing the offices of senior Hamas officials.

Israel and Hamas are heading “towards a full-scale war”, according to the UN envoy for Middle East Peace, Tor Wennesland.

Riots in mixed towns 

On the evening of May 11, unrest flares in mixed Jewish-Arab towns.

Israel declares a state of emergency in Lod, near Tel Aviv, after police report rioting by some Arab residents after the death of an Arab Israeli.

Violent scenes also take place in other Israeli-Arab localities.

Up to 1,000 border police are called up as reinforcements. More than 400 people, Jews and Arabs, are arrested.

Build-up near Gaza 

Washington on May 12 says it is rushing an envoy to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Russia calls for an emergency meeting of the Middle East Quartet — the European Union, Russia, the United States and the United Nations.

The next day, Israel masses armoured vehicles and troops along the border with the Gaza Strip. The defence ministry gives the army the green light to mobilise thousands of reservists if needed.

On May 14, Israel continues its air and artillery strikes on the Palestinian enclave.

The next day, an Israeli air strike flattens a 13-floor building housing Qatar-based Al Jazeera television and the US news agency the Associated Press in the Gaza Strip.

Since May 10, strikes on Gaza and rockets fired at Israel have killed dozens of people, most of them Palestinians, and wounded hundreds.

Palestinian armed groups have fired more than 2,000 rockets at Israel. Many of them have been intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile system.

West Bank clashes 

Demonstrations across the occupied West Bank have led to clashes with the Israeli forces. On May 14 alone, Israeli fire kills 11 Palestinians, according to the Palestinian health ministry.

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