The tension between Israel and Palestine seems to be getting worse even after two weeks of clashes. On Friday, Palestinian demonstrators set fire to a Jewish shrine in the West Bank city of Nablus.
Both nations have blamed each other for the clashes that have erupted across the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The blame-game took place at the emergency meet called by the United Nations Security Council.
“Israel should receive severe punishment for the atrocity it committed on the Palestinians in Palestine’s occupied territories including East Jerusalem,” said Riyad Mansour, permanent observer of the State of Palestine.
“I have no doubt that if on a daily basis your citizens are being stabbed in the streets with butcher knives or shot on buses, your security forces would have reacted in the same way,” blamed David Roet, deputy permanent representative of Israel to the United Nations. This even as Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has said that he was ready to meet Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas to help restore calm.
Taking note of the serious situation, the UN has warned of a possible religious fight that could have a “catastrophic consequence” on both Israelis and Palestinians.
“We call on all sides to respect the sanctity of all holy sites and reject the extremist elements that are pursuing a political agenda seeking to transform the current situation from a national to a religious struggle,” warned UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs, Taye Brook Zerihoun.
He also briefed the expert panel in the emergency meet on the violence that has left a total of 7 Israelis and 32 Palestinians dead until Thursday.
Two Palestinians were also shot dead near the border between Gaza and Israel on Friday (October 16) during clashes with the Israeli forces. Violence broke out in the Gaza Strip when Palestinians approached the border fence with Israel. They threw stones at soldiers, who opened fire, killing two Palestinians and wounding several others, Palestinian medical officials said.
The Israeli military has claimed that hundreds of people had gathered along the border, some hurling rocks and some burning tyres at the fence. A military spokeswoman said that troops swung into action by using riot dispersal means only to prevent further escalation of violence.
Many Israelis were also killed in random attacks at streets in Jerusalem.
The US expressed its concern about the escalating violence. President Barack Obama urged both nations to bring down the inflammatory rhetoric.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms violence directed against innocent people,” President Obama said.
“We also believe that it’s important for both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israeli elected officials, and President Mahmud Abbas and other people in positions of power, to try to tamp down rhetoric that may feed violence or anger or misunderstanding,” Obama added.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State John Kerry said that he had plans to travel to the Middle East soon to try to calm the violence.
In Friday’s attack on a Jewish shrine in Nablus, a number of Palestinians attacked Joseph’s Tomb, a place where Jews go to pray, which is also valued as the resting of the biblical figure. Palestinian police dispersed the horde and firefighters extinguished the blaze before the Israeli security forces arrived.
(With inputs from agencies)