Israel increases military presence in West Bank as UN Security Council readies to meet over spate of violence in Jerusalem
Sweden, Egypt and France requested the meeting to urgently discuss how calls for de-escalation can be supported
Israel has sent extra troops into the occupied West Bank and its police broke up a crowd of stone-throwing Palestinians in Jerusalem as international concern mounted over the deadliest outbreak of violence between the two sides for years.
The Palestinian Health Ministry said one Palestinian was killed during a separate clash outside the city, taking the death toll from the past two days to seven. It did not provide details of how he died.
Three Israelis were stabbed to death on Friday while eating dinner in a West Bank settlement. Hours earlier, three Palestinians were killed in violence prompted by Israel’s installation of metal detectors at entry points to the Noble Sanctuary-Temple Mount compound in Jerusalem’s walled Old City.
In New York, diplomats said the United Nations Security Council would meet to discuss the situation on Monday.
Sweden, Egypt and France requested the meeting to “urgently discuss how calls for de-escalation in Jerusalem can be supported,” Sweden’s Security Council coordinator, Carl Skau, posted on Twitter.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the suspension of all official contact with Israel until it removed the metal detectors at the holy compound in Jerusalem, where Muslims pray at Al-Aqsa mosque.
He gave no details, but current contacts are largely limited to security cooperation.
Israel’s security cabinet was due to convene overnight and was expected to discuss alternative security measures that could be used to replace the metal detectors, according to two Israeli officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
The European Union, warning of the risk of further escalation, said it was vital that “all political, religious and community leaders act responsibly, restore calm and avoid any steps or rhetoric that could further increase tensions”.
In Jerusalem, Israeli police said they used riot gear to disperse dozens of Palestinians who threw stones and bottles at them. Television footage showed police throwing stun grenades and using a water cannon to break up the crowd.
The stabbing victims were from the fenced-in West Bank settlement of Neve Tsuf. The attacker, Omar Alabed, who invaded their home, was shot and taken to a hospital for treatment, the military said.
Alabed posted a note on Facebook prior to the attack, writing: “I am going there and I know I am not going to come back here, I will go to heaven. How sweet death is for the sake of God, his prophet and for Al-Aqsa mosque.”
Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman met with senior commanders in the West Bank to assess the situation and said the attacker’s home would be promptly demolished, in line with Israeli policy.
Palestinian worshippers had clashed with Israeli security forces before Friday’s attack. Tensions had mounted for days as Palestinians hurled rocks and Israeli police used stun grenades after the detectors were placed outside the sacred venue, known to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount.