Government Policy

Israel-Palestinian tensions simmer ahead of US envoy visit

Israeli forces shot dead a

knife attacker in Jerusalem Monday, police said, as a ceasefire holds

in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza ahead of a visit by Washington’s

top diplomat.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken left Washington around noon

local time and is due to arrive in Tel Aviv on Tuesday morning, days

after an Egypt-brokered truce halted the conflict between the Jewish

state and the Gaza Strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas.

US President Joe Biden said his top envoy will meet “with Israeli

leaders about our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security,” as well

as seeking to rebuild ties with the Palestinians.

While Gaza remained calm on Monday, Israeli police said an attacker

stabbed two young Israeli men in Jerusalem before police shot him

dead.

Palestinian news agency WAFA said that Israeli forces had shot dead

a 17-year-old Palestinian high school student from occupied east

Jerusalem.

Hadassah medical centre in Jerusalem said it was treating two men in

their twenties for stab wounds. Both were in a stable condition and

one was identified by the army as a soldier.

The 11-day conflict with Hamas in Gaza sparked inter-communal

tensions in Israel itself between Jewish and Arab citizens of

Palestinian descent, and amplified protests across the occupied West

Bank.

Overnight Israeli forces rounded up 43 Palestinians in the West Bank

and annexed east Jerusalem, including 27 in the latter, the

Palestinian Prisoners Club rights group said.

Israeli police, who operate in east Jerusalem, said late Sunday that

they had arrested 1,550 suspects and had charged 150 over the past two

weeks over “violent events”.

– Sheikh Jarrah flashpoint –

Monday’s fatal altercation took place a short distance from the

occupied east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Sheikh Jarrah, the site of

regular protests against the expulsion of Palestinians from their

homes in favour of Jewish settlers.

Tensions there built earlier this month to culminate in repeated

clashes between Palestinian worshippers and Israeli security forces

inside the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound, triggering initial

volleys of rocket fire from Gaza on May 10.

Subsequent Israeli air strikes and artillery fire on Gaza killed 248

Palestinians, including 66 children, and wounded over 1,900 people,

the Gaza health ministry says.

Rocket and other fire from Gaza claimed 12 lives in Israel,

including one child and an Arab-Israeli teenager, an Israeli soldier,

one Indian, and two Thai nationals, medics say. Some 357 people in

Israel have been wounded.

There is controversy about how many of those killed in Gaza were

combatants, and how many were civilians.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed the bombing

campaign had killed “more than 200 terrorists” in Gaza.

– ‘Years of neglect’ –

Alongside meeting Israeli leaders, Biden said his secretary of state

would also engage with the Palestinians.

Relations between Washington and the Palestinian Authority fell

apart under Biden’s predecessor Donald Trump, who recognised Jerusalem

as Israel’s capital — a move that broke with decades of international

consensus.

Blinken “will continue our administration’s efforts to rebuild ties

to, and support for, the Palestinian people and leaders, after years

of neglect,” the US president said.

Biden said last week his country was committed to helping provide

humanitarian relief and supporting reconstruction in Gaza “in a manner

that does not permit Hamas to simply restock its military arsenal”.

The office of Israel’s defence minister announced Monday Israeli

authorities had seized various materials bound for Gaza before the

latest war.

“Their suspected destination was a Hamas military wing’s

manufacturing site,” Benny Gantz’s office said in a statement.

It added that he had also signed orders to seize millions of shekels

in gold discovered in foiled smuggling attempts from Gaza to the West

Bank, amid suspicions Hamas was using it to fund “terrorism” there.

Israel’s air campaign has ravaged Gaza’s infrastructure, as well as

made at least 6,000 people homeless, the UN’s humanitarian agency

says.

Up to 800,000 are without access to clean water in the coastal

enclave, which has been under blockade since 2007.

In Gaza city on Monday, several men helped Nazmi Al-Dahdouh set up a

tent on the mounds of rubble where his home stood before it was hit by

an Israeli air strike.

“Where else should I go?” said the elderly man in a long robe and

white skull cap.

“I will live here. I will either die, or live, or they will bombard me again.”

Source: Bangladesh Sangbad Sangstha (BSS)