|Israeli security forces are deployed after clashes with Palestinians at the Temple Mount/ Al-Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem on April 5, 2023. (Photo: AFP/VNA)
The source of the latest outbreak of violence was the Israeli military’s storming of the Temple Mount, known to the Palestinians as the Al-Aqsa Mosque, in East Jerusalem in the early morning of April 5th. The subsequent retaliatory attacks have pushed the Middle East into an extremely dangerous situation, which could easily erupt into a new wave of bloody fighting.
During the raid on the Temple Mount/Al-Aqsa, the Israeli troops captured about 350 Palestinians at a sensitive time when Jewish Israelis were beginning Passover, their most important holiday of the year, and Muslim Palestinians were in the middle of their holy month of Ramadan.
The next day, the Israeli military issued a statement saying that at least 34 missiles had been launched into northern Israel from southern Lebanon by Hamas, who control the Gaza Strip. Most of the missiles were shot down by Israel's Iron Dome air defense system, but two people were injured and several facilities were damaged.
The Israeli military responded with a series of airstrikes targeting Hamas infrastructure in southern Lebanon and the Gaza Strip. This was the first time Israel confirmed carrying out an attack on Lebanese territory since April 2022. The same day Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu signed a decree mobilizing the police and reservists to be ready to deal with possible escalating violence.
On April 8 the Israeli military reported that three rockets were fired from Syria to Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Israeli artillery immediately fired back.
In the West Bank, repeated clashes have been reported between the Israeli military and armed Palestinians since April 5. The latest clash at the Aqaba refugee camp in Jericho city on Monday killed one Palestinian and injured at least five others.
|Fire and smoke rise from an Israeli air strike on the Gaza Strip on April 7, 2023. (Photo: AP)
Preventing an escalation
Aljazeera TV and other regional news sources said the situation in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and along the Israel-Lebanon and Israel-Syria border is dangerous. Most worrying is that back-and-forth attacks between Israel and Hamas in southern Lebanon would involve Hezbolla, the largest armed Islamist group in Lebanon, which had bloody clashes with the Israeli military in the past. In the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the situation could spiral into bloody violence even more dangerous than the Palestinians’ Intifada uprisings.
The international community has made continuous efforts to cool down the situation and prevent an escalation. Last Thursday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan talked on the phone with his Israeli counterpart Isaac Herzog, and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin called his Israeli counterpart Yoav Gallant to urge Israeli restraint.
The EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Josep Borrell called on all parties to exercise restraint and keep calm for the ongoing religious holidays. He said the EU is calling for an immediate end to the ongoing violence, and all efforts must be made to prevent the conflict from spreading.
Officials of China, Russia, Britain, and France have called on all parties to practice restraint and reduce tensions, and urged the international community to find an appropriate solution to the Palestinian situation.