Ab­bas doesn’t want vi­o­lence es­ca­la­tion with Is­rael

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL - BY LAU­RENT LOZANO

Pales­tinian pres­i­dent Mah­moud Ab­bas said Tues­day he wanted to avoid a vi­o­lent es­ca­la­tion with Is­rael, his most di­rect com­ments since un­rest has spread in re­cent days and pro­voked fears of a new upris­ing.

His com­ments came as Prime Min­is­ter Ben­jamin Ne­tanyahu pledged a crack­down and Is­rael, in a show of force, de­mol­ished the homes of two Pales­tini­ans who car­ried out at­tacks last year.

More clashes also erupted Tues­day, in­clud­ing in Beth­le­hem fol­low­ing the fu­neral of a 13-year- old killed by Is­raeli sol­diers dur­ing ri­ot­ing out­side the city.

“We don’t want a mil­i­tary and se­cu­rity es­ca­la­tion with Is­rael,” Ab­bas said at a meet­ing of Pales­tinian of­fi­cials, ac­cord­ing to of­fi­cial news agency Wafa.

“We are telling our se­cu­rity forces, our po­lit­i­cal move­ments, that we do not want an es­ca­la­tion, but that we want to pro­tect our­selves.”

Ab­bas’s in­ten­tions were un­clear be­fore his re­cent com­ments, par­tic­u­larly fol­low­ing his U.N. Gen­eral Assem­bly speech last week, in which he de­clared he was no longer bound by ac­cords with Is­rael. But the ques­tion re­mains of whether Pales­tinian youths frus­trated with both Ab­bas’s lead­er­ship and Is­rael’s right-wing gov­ern­ment will lis­ten to his ap­peals.

Tues­day’s de­mo­li­tions came with Ne­tanyahu un­der in­creas­ing pres­sure from right-wing mem­bers of his coali­tion, which holds only a one-seat par­lia­men­tary ma­jor­ity, as clashes have spread fol­low­ing the mur­der of four Is­raelis.

De­mo­li­tions for Ter­ror­ists

The spike in vi­o­lence has brought in­ter­na­tional calls for calm, with con­cerns the un­rest could spin out of con­trol and mem­o­ries of pre­vi­ous Pales­tinian up­ris­ings still fresh.

The houses de­stroyed were the for­mer homes of Ghas­san Abu Ja­mal and Mo­hammed Jaabis, the mil­i­tary said. They were placed un­der de­mo­li­tion or­ders af­ter the men at­tacked Is­raelis last year.

Armed with meat cleavers and a pis­tol, Abu Ja­mal and his cousin Uday Abu Ja­mal killed four rab­bis and a po­lice­man be­fore be­ing shot dead in Novem­ber 2014.

Jaabis rammed an earth­mover into a bus in Au­gust 2014, killing an Is­raeli and wound­ing sev­eral oth­ers be­fore he was shot dead by po­lice.

An AFP jour­nal­ist saw the gut­ted in­side of a house in east Jerusalem that wit­nesses said was the for­mer res­i­dence of Abu Ja­mal.

Yasser Abdu, 40, a neigh­bor and friend of the Abu Ja­mals, ac­cused Is­rael of a “pol­icy of col­lec­tive pun­ish­ment.”

The de­mo­li­tion ex­plo­sion, which took place be­fore dawn, blew out the in­te­rior of the struc­ture but the sup­port­ing pil­lars re­mained in­tact, an AFP jour­nal­ist said.

The blast dam­aged other apart­ments in the build­ing as well as sur­round­ing struc­tures.

Eye­wit­nesses said po­lice and other author­i­ties ar­rived at mid­night, lock­ing down the area be­fore drilling and plant­ing the ex­plo­sives.

A room was also sealed off at the for­mer home of Mu­ataz Hi­jazi, who in Oc­to­ber 2014 tried to gun down a right-wing Jewish ac­tivist, crit­i­cally wound­ing him. Hi­jazi was shot dead the next morn­ing

dur­ing a po­lice raid.

‘In­tifada’ Mem­o­ries Fresh

The de­mo­li­tions had been chal­lenged in Is­rael’s top court, which ul­ti­mately ap­proved them.

The court also ap­proved seal­ing the room but not de­mol­ish­ing the struc­ture, as Hi­jazi’s at­tack “did not ul­ti­mately re­sult in the loss of hu­man life.”

The puni­tive mea­sures come af­ter clashes have spread in east Jerusalem and the West Bank in re­cent days fol­low­ing the mur­ders of four Is­raelis, in­clud­ing a Jewish set­tler cou­ple shot in front of their chil­dren.

Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces said five men they had ar­rested over the cou­ple’s mur­der were mem­bers of mil­i­tant group Ha­mas. Ne­tanyahu vis­ited the site of the mur­ders Tues­day.

On Mon­day, Is­raeli troops shot dead the 13-year-old Pales­tinian — the sec­ond killing of a Pales­tinian in 24 hours — as dozens were wounded in fresh clashes.

Ne­tanyahu has an­nounced a se­ries of new se­cu­rity mea­sures.

“We are not pre­pared to give im­mu­nity to any­body, not to any ri­oter ... or any ter­ror­ist, any­where, and there­fore there are no lim­its on the ac­tiv­i­ties of the se­cu­rity forces,” Ne­tanyahu said ahead of a spe­cial ses­sion of his se­cu­rity cab­i­net Mon­day night.

Also on Mon­day, thou­sands turned out in Jerusalem for a rally out­side the prime min­is­ter’s res­i­dence or­ga­nized by Jewish set­tlers urg­ing Ne­tanyahu to come down hard on mil­i­tants and boost set­tle­ment build­ing.

Is­rael lifted rare re­stric­tions Tues­day bar­ring Pales­tini­ans from Jerusalem’s Old City, with only res­i­dents, busi­ness own­ers and stu­dents al­lowed in the pre­vi­ous two days.

The re­stric­tions had been im­posed af­ter two Is­raelis were stabbed to death there and as Jews wrapped up cel­e­bra­tions of their Sukkot hol­i­day, which ended Mon­day night.

Wor­ship at the sen­si­tive al-Aqsa mosque com­pound will con­tinue to be lim­ited to men aged 50 and above. There is no age limit for women.

AP

(Top) Pales­tinian youths throw rocks at an Is­raeli mil­i­tary ve­hi­cle dur­ing a raid in the West Bank city of Nablus, Tues­day, Oct. 6 (Above) A man kisses 13-year-old Pales­tinian Ab­del Rah­man Shadi in a morgue in the town of Beth­le­hem, West Bank, Mon­day, Oct. 5. Shadi died af­ter be­ing hit by a bullet to the chest dur­ing clashes be­tween Pales­tini­ans and Is­raeli se­cu­rity forces, a doc­tor at a hos­pi­tal near the clashes said.

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