Violent clashes at Rally for Jerusalem as man filmed leaping onto protester

Violent clashes at Rally for Jerusalem as man filmed leaping onto protester

Violent clashes at Rally for Jerusalem as man filmed leaping onto protester

Thousands of protesters gathered in London yesterday calling for and end to Israeli airstrikes on Gaza as the death toll continues to rise. 

Both sides have been firing rockets across each other’s borders following days of clashes between Palestinians and police at Jerusalem’s al-Aqsa Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.

Anger had been mounting for weeks ahead of a now-delayed Israeli court ruling on whether dozens of Palestinians could be evicted from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to make way for Jewish settlers.

Rockets were fired by Hamas — the Islamist group that runs Gaza — after an ultimatum for Israel to withdraw its forces from the neighbourhood and the compound containing the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Yesterday thousands of protesters, including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, gathered near Downing Street, holding banners saying ‘Free Palestine’ and ‘Hands Off Jerusalem’.

A smaller group of counter-protesters with Israeli flags were escorted away by police to chants of ‘shame on you’ by pro-Palestinian demonstrators.

Video footage shows one person jumping from above and landing feet first on the shoulders and back of one of the counter-protesters.

Israel stepped up its attacks on the Gaza Strip, flattening a high-rise building used by Hamas and killing at least three militants in their hideouts yesterday as Palestinian rockets rained down on parts of Israel.

It was the heaviest fighting between the two sides since 2014 and showed signs of slowing.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to expand the offensive, while Gaza militants unleashed a fierce late-night barrage of rockets that set off air-raid sirens and explosions throughout Tel Aviv.

Just after daybreak today, Israel unleashed dozens of airstrikes in the course of a few minutes, targeting police and security installations, witnesses said.

Iyad al-Bozum, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Interior Ministry, said airstrikes destroyed the central police headquarters in Gaza City, a compound with several buildings.

Five Israelis, including three women and a child, were killed by rocket fire yesterday and earlier today, and dozens have been wounded.

The death toll in Gaza rose to 35 Palestinians, including 10 children, according to the Health Ministry, with over 200 wounded.

Meanwhile in the West Bank, a 26-year-old Palestinian was killed during clashes with Israeli troops that entered al-Fawar refugee camp in southern Hebron, the ministry said.

In another sign of widening unrest, demonstrations erupted in Arab communities across Israel, where protesters set dozens of vehicles on fire in confrontations with police.

The fighting between Israel and Hamas was the most intense since a 50-day war in the summer of 2014.

In just over 24 hours, the current round of violence, sparked by religious tensions in the contested city of Jerusalem, increasingly resembled that devastating war.

The booms of Israeli airstrikes and hisses of outgoing rocket fire could be heard in Gaza throughout the day, and large plumes of smoke from targeted buildings rose into the air.

Israel resumed a policy of airstrikes aimed at killing wanted militants and began to take down entire buildings – a tactic that drew heavy international criticism in 2014.

In Israel, the nonstop barrages of rocket fire left long streaks of white smoke in their wake, while the explosions of anti-rocket interceptors boomed overhead. Air-raid sirens wailed throughout the day, sending panicked residents scurrying for cover.

In a nationally televised address, Netanyahu said that Hamas and the smaller Islamic Jihad militant groups ‘have paid, and I tell you here, will pay a heavy price for their aggression’.

He claimed that Israel had killed dozens of militants and inflicted heavy damage on hundreds of targets.

He added: ‘This campaign will take time. With determination, unity and strength, we will restore security to the citizens of Israel.’

Israel’s military said it was activating some 5,000 reservists and sending troop reinforcements to the Gaza border.

The current violence has coincided with the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan, a time of heightened religious sentiments.

Critics say heavy-handed Israeli police measures in and around Jerusalem’s Old City helped stoke nightly unrest.

Confrontations erupted last weekend at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, which is the third-holiest site in Islam and the holiest site in Judaism.

Over four days, Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinians in the compound who hurled stones and chairs at the forces. At times, police fired stun grenades into the carpeted mosque.

On Monday evening, Hamas began firing rockets from Gaza. From there on, the escalation was rapid.

In a televised address, Hamas’ exiled leader, Ismail Haniyeh, said Israel bore responsibility.

He added: ‘It’s the Israeli occupation that set Jerusalem on fire, and the flames reached Gaza.’

Palestinian health officials gave no breakdown on the death toll in Gaza, but Islamic Jihad confirmed that three senior commanders were killed in a strike on their hideout in a Gaza City apartment building. The Health Ministry said 10 children and a woman were also killed.

Today the UN Security Council plans to hold its second closed emergency meeting on the escalating violence this week, an indication of growing international concern.

Council diplomats, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the UN’s most powerful body did not issue a statement because of US concerns that it could escalate tensions.

The escalation comes at a time of political limbo in Israel. Netanyahu has been caretaker prime minister since an inconclusive parliamentary election in March.

After failing to form a coalition government by a deadline last week, his political rivals have now been given the opportunity.

The support of an Arab-backed party with Islamist roots is key for the anti-Netanyahu bloc.

But the current tensions might deter the party’s leader, Mansour Abbas, from joining a coalition with Jewish parties, at least for the time being.

The sides have three more weeks to reach a deal. If they fail, Israel would likely begin an unprecedented fifth election campaign in just over two years.

Source: Metro

Previous Post Next Post