Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said 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 on Tuesday came as Israeli 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.
The homes of Ghassan Abu Jamal and Muhammad Jaabis, both in East Jerusalem, were flattened early on Tuesday.
Along with his cousin Uday, Abu Jamal killed four rabbis and a policeman during an attack on a synagogue in West Jerusalem in November before being shot dead by police on the scene.
Jaabis was also fatally shot by police after he drove a bulldozer into a bus on August 4, leaving one Israeli dead and wounding several others.
Israeli forces also cordoned off a room in a third house, belonging to Muataz Hijazi, a Palestinian who shot and critically wounded Israeli activist Yehuda Glick in October 2014.
Hijazi, 32, was killed by police on the roof of his home as officers raided it just hours after the shooting.
More clashes also erupted on 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 UN General Assembly speech last week, in which he declared he was no longer bound by accords with Israel.
Increased security measures
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.
Netanyahu announced on Tuesday plans to install security cameras along roads in the occupied West Bank, as tensions soared.
Netanyahu was speaking at the Horon military base in the West Bank after visiting the junction where Naama and Eitam Henkin were killed in their car in front of their four children in a Thursday attack.
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.
At least 499 Palestinians have been injured in clashes since Saturday, according to the Palestinian Red Crescent.
Of that total, at least 41 were shot by live ammunition and 297 had suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.