Israeli forces have shot and killed two more Palestinians, following fourteen days of violence that have already claimed at least 30 Palestinian lives.
Israeli police opened fire on one young Palestinian on Wednesday afternoon at the entrance of the Damascus gate in Jerusalem. The Ma’an News Agency said he was 20-years-old and from Hebron.
Police claimed that the young man attempted to stab a policeman after they approached him for a security search. No Israeli casualties were reported.
Just four hours later on Wednesday evening, an Israeli policeman shot and killed another Palestinian believed to be 23-years-old in West Jerusalem, who they alleged to be an attacker.
In the second case, according to Israeli police, the attacker stabbed and “moderately” injured an elderly Israeli woman then tried to board a bus to get away, prompting them to chase him, shoot and kill on scene.
Addressing Palestinians for the first time since the violence began, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in a recorded televised speech he supported “peaceful and popular” struggle against Israel.
The killings come as Israel set up checkpoints at exits of Palestinian neighbourhoods in occupied East Jerusalem after the government approved tough “security” measures.
Violence between Palestinians and Israelis has surged since the start of the month, sparked by Palestinian fears about increased visits by hardline Jewish groups to the al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Despite Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledging to maintain the current status quo, Palestinians worry that the visits mark the first stage of an eventual plan to partition the compound into Muslim and Jewish sections.
Those killed in the violence included attackers, but most were demonstrators or stone throwers shot dead by Israeli soldiers during protests. Seven Israelis have also been killed.
Curfews and checkpoints
|New Israeli security measures|
The army deployed six companies on Wednesday to the country’s urban areas.
Steps approved include allowing police to seal off Palestinian neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem.
Speaking on the deployment of soldiers, Al Jazeera’s Mike Hanna, reporting from West Jerusalem, said the country had never formally moved to deploy troops in Israel proper.
“This is unprecedented in many ways – to actually deploy formally Israeli soldiers on the streets alongside police officers,” he said.
“This is a conscript society. People are used to seeing people in uniform with guns walking through the streets. However, the formal nature of this – the fact the government has formally asked the Israeli army to provide companies – is going to strike the Israeli psyche very much.”
Israel’s security cabinet also approved a proposal by Gilad Erdan, public security minister, that Israel not hand over the bodies of those killed during attacks to their families.
Erdan suggested burying them in Israeli army cemeteries within Israel’s borders, where others in such cases have been buried in the past.
Al Jazeera’s Hanna said this marks the first time in Israel’s history that it has proposed withholding dead bodies of killed Palestinians from their families.
‘We are being chased out of our homes’
An Israeli police spokeswoman said checkpoints were being set up at “the exits of Palestinian villages and neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem”.
“This racist government has turned Jerusalem into a war zone … We are being chased out of our homes … our streets,” said Aziz Abbasi.
|Israel unveils heightened security measures|
“The streets and alleyways of Jerusalem’s old town are empty of Arabs and settlers.
“In every corner [and] alleyway in Jerusalem, there are armed men, border police, army, intelligence officers.”
Another resident, Islam Younes, said he had been attacked by Israeli soldiers and that the situation in the city was “very tense” with security measures on every entrance leading to the Old City.
“I only came to pray at al-Aqsa Mosque, but everybody is on edge, expecting violations and attacks to take place at any time.”