West Bank deaths increase risk of new front in Arab-Israeli conflict

Israeli security forces killed eight people in the occupied West Bank and injured more than 100 others according to local officials, pointing to the prospect of a new front emerging in the deepening conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

Palestinians across the West Bank – from Nablus to Jericho – clashed with Israeli soldiers in chaotic protests against a six-day six-day bombing by Israel against Hamas in the stranded Gaza Strip.

Community riots between Jewish and Arab Israeli minorities in cities also rocked the country, revealing a deep rift within the Jewish state.

The Israeli military operation in Gaza killed 122 Palestinians, including 51 women and children. A family of six was killed on Friday, according to Gaza health officials.

Despite Israeli shelling, which has been escalated to include artillery and tank fire, Hamas, the militant group that controls Gaza, has fired about 1,800 rockets deep into Israel. Nine Israelis were killed, including a child and a soldier.

The West Bank, home to Fatah, the rival Palestinian faction of Hamas, has been relatively calm this week. But five Palestinians were killed on Friday after protesting and throwing stones at Israeli security forces, while a sixth man was killed after attempting to stab an Israeli soldier, West Bank health officials said.

An escalation of violence in the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since the 1967 war and is home to some 650,000 Israeli settlers, would add a dangerous new dynamic to the conflict.

In addition to its campaign against Hamas, Israel is already grappling with the worst domestic communal violence in years as groups of minority Israeli Jews and Arab men attacked members of their respective communities and destroyed property in communities. mixed Israeli towns.

The Arab-Israeli conflict has been dominated for more than a decade by fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian factions in the occupied territories. But community violence has sparked new tensions.

Israeli Arabs make up about a fifth of the Jewish state’s population, carry Israeli passports and vote in the country’s elections. But they say they suffer from institutional and social discrimination and their sympathy for the Palestinian cause has made them a target for right-wing Israeli politicians.

This week, Israel redeployed several thousand Israeli police from the West Bank to Israeli towns and villages as it stepped up efforts to stem internal unrest.

He also mobilized thousands of military reservists on the border with Gaza as he added tanks and artillery to his air campaign against Hamas.

The crisis erupted after weeks of tension in and around Jerusalem, which escalated last week when Israeli police used rubber bullets, tear gas and stun grenades against Palestinian protesters inside the compound. al-Aqsa mosque. More than 600 Palestinians were injured and footage of police using force against protesters at Islam’s third holiest site – long a flashpoint in the Arab-Israeli conflict – inflamed Arab anger.

Hamas fired around 1,800 rockets deep into Israel © Getty Images

The al-Aqsa Mosque is located in a complex – known to Muslims as Haram ash-Sharif, or Noble Shrine, and to Jews as the Temple Mount – which is sacred to both religions.

As tensions mounted, Hamas entered the fray on Monday, firing rockets at Israel and demanding that Jewish settlers in Israel-occupied East Jerusalem stop harassing Arab residents who were awaiting expulsion orders from courts. Israelis. Israel responded by launching its biggest military campaign against Hamas since its 2014 war with the Islamist group, hammering the Gaza Strip which is home to 2 million Palestinians.

The impoverished territory is now reduced to about five hours of electricity a day and will likely run out of fuel by Sunday, according to an Israeli security official. In an attempt to stifle Hamas’ access to resources, Israel has, since 2007, imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

The Lebanese state news agency confirmed that a Lebanese man died from injuries sustained during an altercation with the Israel Defense Forces at the Lebanese-Israeli border this afternoon. Videos shared on social media showed protesters carrying Palestinian flags and those of Hezbollah, the Lebanese militant group, crossing the barbed wire separating the two nations, which are technically still at war. The IDF said the protesters set fire and soldiers fired to repel the protesters.

The death of a Lebanese protester at the border will raise fears that Hezbollah may retaliate. A delegation from the militia leadership visited the Hamas base in Lebanon on Friday, as well as that of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad faction, Hezbollah-linked Al Manar reported.

Additional reporting by Chloe Cornish in Beirut

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