At least 44 Palestinians have been killed and more than 2,000 injured in clashes with Israeli forces during protests in the occupied Palestinian territories since the beginning of October. Eight Israelis have also been killed in knife and gun attacks.

Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza have been protesting for weeks against what they say are Israeli restrictions on their freedom of movement and rights, unchecked violence by settlers and a collapse in peace negotiations. Under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, illegal settlements expanded and the settler movement, which was a relatively fringe group, became a dominant force in government. They’ve been advocating for free access to the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, a symbol of Palestinian national identity and one of Islam’s holiest sites. 

The recent spike in tension began with a number of clashes around Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s Old City. Jewish ultranationalists have been pushing the Israeli government to allow Jewish prayer on the compound outside Al-Aqsa. Muslims have also been regularly prevented from entering the mosque so that right-wing Israeli groups could tour the compound. In 1967, Israel signed an agreement with the Palestinians stating that non-Muslim prayer at the compound would be forbidden.

To deal with the growing unrest, Israel is imposing more punitive measures, including revoking Jerusalem residency of Palestinians, demolishing the family homes of suspects and the use of detention without trial. As for the protests, Israeli forces have responded with force, using tear gas, rubber-coated steel bullets and live ammunition against demonstrators.

Amnesty International has warned that Israel is using excessive force, noting some of the recorded incidents amounted to "extrajudicial killings". Human Rights Watch is "strongly concerned" by Israel's "indiscriminate and even deliberate" use of live fire on demonstrators.

In this episode we speak with Palestinians from Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza about the growing unrest. 

In this episode of The Stream, we speak with:

Mariam Barghouti @MariamBarghouti
Blogger & activist
ramallahbantustan.wordpress.com

Budour Hassan @Budour48
Freelance journalist
budourhassan.wordpress.com

Ben White @benabyad
Journalist
benwhite.org.uk

Farah Baker @Farah_Gazan
Gaza resident

What do you think? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below.