World leaders urge calm amid growing violence between Israelis, Palestinians

Written by on May 11, 2021

World leaders are appealing for calm amid the growing violence between Palestinians and Israelis, with the most recent tensions coming to a head on Jerusalem Day. The United States, the European Union and the United Kingdom each chimed in to express their disfavor with the ongoing conflict.

The past week has seen hundreds of Palestinians, Israeli police officers and civilians injured. The dispute began with an Israeli Central Court ruling on the eviction of four Palestinian families from the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah, known as Shimon Hatzadik in Hebrew, in favor of Jewish settlers who claim the land as their own.

The ruling sparked protests across Jerusalem that soon became violent, eventually spilling over into full-scale riots at al-Aqsa Mosque, culminating in the firing of at least 300 rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel since Friday – with seven of them aimed at Israel’s capital Jerusalem – and the IDF carrying out a wave of airstrikes targeting 130 terror targets across the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave in response.

“This is an unacceptable escalation,” said US State Department spokesperson Ned Price. “While we urge de-escalation on all sides, we also recognize Israel’s legitimate right to defend itself, to defend its people and its territory.”

With the recent uptick in violence between Israelis, Palestinians and the terrorist groups surging to levels that haven’t been seen in years, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned in the strongest terms the recent barrage of rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. On Monday, Blinken called for the rocket attacks from Gaza against Israel to stop “immediately,” urging all sides to take the necessary steps to reduce tensions.

“We’re very focused on the situation in Israel, [the] West Bank, Gaza – very deeply concerned about the rocket attacks that we’re seeing now, that they need to stop – they need to stop immediately,” Blinken said ahead of meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi.

The State Department secretary expressed further concerns surrounding the violence and “provocative actions” in and around Haram al-Sharif, the hilltop compound in the Old City known as the Temple Mount to Jews and the Noble Sanctuary to Muslims, with the State Department adding that it is dedicated to ensuring calm across the region.

“The United States will remain fully engaged to promote calm in Jerusalem, and we welcome the steps the Israeli government has taken in recent days aimed at avoiding provocations, including the decision to avoid confrontations during the Jerusalem Day commemoration and the delay in the decision regarding the Sheikh Jarrah evictions.”

For more on Hamas attacks and IDF operations read hereFor more on rocket attacks against Israel read here

For more on Israeli strikes on Gaza read here.For more on world reactions to Gaza violence read here

For more on Israeli Politician Gaza reactions read here

UK FOREIGN Secretary Dominic Raab said on Monday that the United Kingdom also censures the firing of rockets.

“The UK condemns the firing of rockets at Jerusalem and locations within Israel,” Raab said. “The ongoing violence in Jerusalem and Gaza must stop.

“We need an immediate de-escalation on all sides, and an end to the targeting of civilian populations,” he added.

The European Union released a statement, also in condemnation of the rocket fire, hours after its top diplomat came forward to express Europe’s hopes for calm after more than 300 Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli police on Monday.

“The firing of rockets from Gaza against civilian populations in Israel is totally unacceptable and feeds escalatory dynamics,” an EU spokesperson said. “All leaders have a responsibility to act against extremists.”

EU Foreign Affairs chief Josep Borrell initially chose to focus on the Sheikh Jarrah evictions before Monday night’s rocket barrage, saying that the “situation with regard to evictions of Palestinian families… is a matter of serious concern. Such actions are illegal under international humanitarian law and only serve to fuel tensions on the ground.”

After censuring the rocket fire in its most recent statement, the EU re-directed calls at Israel to reduce tensions, adding that the “status quo of the holy sites must be fully respected,” urging all sides to engage in de-escalatory efforts to prevent further civilian casualties.

“The significant upsurge in violence in the occupied West Bank, including in East Jerusalem as well as in and around Gaza needs to stop immediately,” it added.

Arab League chief Ahmed Aboul Gheit said on Tuesday that the Israeli airstrikes in Gaza were “indiscriminate and irresponsible.”

He said that Israel was responsible for a “dangerous escalation” in Jerusalem, and called on the international community to act immediately to stop the violence.

The attacks in Gaza were a “miserable show of force at the expense of children’s blood,” he added.

Arab League foreign ministers are holding a virtual meeting on Tuesday to discuss the situation in Jerusalem.

UNITED NATIONS Secretary-General Antonio Guterres shared “his deep concern over the continuing violence in occupied east Jerusalem, as well as the possible evictions of Palestinian families from their homes,” UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric said on Sunday.

Additionally, members of the United Nations Security Council called for further restoration of calm on Monday as the violence between Israelis and Palestinians reached new heights.

The UNSC held a closed-door session in New York on Monday to discuss the rising tensions in east Jerusalem, just before Palestinian terror groups in Gaza began launching more rockets at Israel.

Diplomats said the briefing was requested by almost two-thirds of the 15-member council – Tunisia, Ireland, China, Estonia, France, Norway, Niger, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Vietnam.

Vietnam, one of the countries who called the meeting, came in with a pre-existing agenda in condemnation of Israel, saying it expressed “grave concern,” condemned “all acts of violence [and urged] all parties to exercise [maximum] restraint.” The Vietnam mission also called on Israel to stop settlement activity and to halt “forced evictions” of Palestinians and “home demolitions.”

After the meeting, Norway’s mission to the UN tweeted it was “critical that political, religious [and] other leaders do all they can to de-escalate this volatile situation.

“All measures aimed at altering the demographic composition, character [and] status of the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 are illegal,” it added.

PALESTINIANS FIRED uninterrupted barrages of rockets into Israel on Monday, and the IDF retaliated by pounding Gaza with airstrikes through the early hours of Tuesday, in a dramatic escalation of clashes in Jerusalem.

Explosions shook buildings throughout Gaza and rocket sirens sent Israelis in many southern towns scurrying for shelter overnight. Some 24 Palestinians were killed and more than 103 wounded in airstrikes, Palestinian officials said.

Some 31 Israelis were wounded by rockets overnight, Israeli medical officials said. An extra ten were injured during Tuesday morning’s rocket barrage, bringing the total to 41.

The events were unleashed by Gaza terrorists firing on the Jerusalem area for the first time since the 2014 war, crossing what Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called a “redline.” Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad terrorist group claimed responsibility for the rocket fire on Jerusalem.

The upsurge in violence came as Israel celebrated Jerusalem Day, marking its capture of east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War.

Monday’s escalations began with confrontations at al-Aqsa, which occurred amid smaller protests and riots spread across the Jerusalem area as well as the rest of the country – with the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood being another focal point. Over the course of the day, more than 300 Palestinians were injured in clashes with Israeli police, who fired rubber bullets, stun grenades and tear gas in the Aqsa compound. Police said 21 officers were hurt in the skirmishes.

In response to the rocket fire, the IDF said it struck targets that included terrorist operatives, attack tunnels and the home of a Hamas battalion commander.

OF THE 24 Palestinians killed on Monday, seven, including three children, were family members who died in an explosion in the town of Beit Hanoun, though it was unclear if it had been caused by an Israeli strike or a Palestinian rocket that had fallen short.

The IDF spokesperson said about a third of the Palestinian rockets fired had fallen short and caused damage and casualties inside Gaza.

International efforts to appeal for calm are also attempting to incorporate more direct channels of communication with the terrorist cells in Gaza, in hopes the talks will lead to de-escalation.

A Palestinian official told Reuters that Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, which have mediated truces between Israel and Hamas in the past, were in contact with the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh.

Hamas allegedly warned Egyptian officials overnight that the Gaza terrorist groups will refuse negotiations for a ceasefire until Israel removes its security forces from Sheikh Jarrah and the Temple Mount, as well release all those detained in the clashes taking place across east Jerusalem and the West Bank, according to a report by the London-based Saudi newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed.The IDF expressed similar sentiments, claiming it is not interested in a ceasefire at the moment, with the IDF spokesperson stating in response to questions about a possible ceasefire: “Talk to the Palestinians. I know nothing about that.” Reuters contributed to this report.

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