Mahmoud Abbas appeals for international community to stop Israeli 'aggression'

Published October 15th, 2015 - 06:21 GMT
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas called for international intervention as the conflict escalates. (AFP/File)
Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas called for international intervention as the conflict escalates. (AFP/File)
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas appealed Wednesday for immediate international intervention to avert a new war in the Middle East.

He spoke after a spate of Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israelis, and violent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli security forces.

In a pre-recorded address to the Palestinian people broadcast on Palestine TV, Abbas warned that Israeli "aggression" against the Palestinian people, their land and holy places could trigger a holy war.

"This is a threat to peace and stability, and could trigger a religious conflict that can burn everything, not only in the region but maybe in the entire world."

Abbas said he was sounding "alarm bells" for immediate intervention "before it is too late."

The number of Palestinian stabbing attacks against Israelis rose to 22 in the last 11 days, as two knife-wielding Palestinians lunged at Israelis in separate incidents Wednesday in Jerusalem.

In the first incident, police approached a man sitting outside the Damascus Gate of the walled Old City after noticing he was wearing military camouflage pants and seemed nervous. When they asked the man for his identity card, he drew a knife and lunged toward the officers, who shot him dead, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Later, a Palestinian stabbed an elderly woman near Jerusalem's Central Bus Station. The wounded woman boarded a nearby bus, and the bus driver shut the door just before the attacker boarded behind her. Police rushed to the scene and shot the assailant dead.

In an attempt to bolster security in the face of the attacks, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it was deploying six companies of soldiers as police reinforcements, IDF spokesman Peter Lerner posted on Twitter.

Some 300 soldiers had been integrated into police activity, Rosenfeld said, and witnesses confirmed seeing soldiers in green uniforms alongside police near the scene of a Tuesday shooting and stabbing attack.

The deployment of military assistance followed a security cabinet meeting Wednesday in which the Israeli government announced the unprecedented decision to authorize police to block off Arab neighbourhoods in East Jerusalem to impede Palestinian access to predominantly Jewish areas.

Witnesses in the city said they had not yet observed many roadblocks between Jewish and Arab areas.

The cabinet decided to recruit 300 public transportation security guards and approved a series of punitive measures, including revoking Jerusalem residence permits, confiscation of property and a prohibition on rebuilding houses that were demolished as punishment for a terrorist attack.

Seven Israelis and 21 Palestinians from the West Bank and Jerusalem - 16 of them attackers who were shot after attacking Israelis - have been killed this month in the deadliest wave of street violence in years.

Another 11 Palestinians were killed in the Gaza Strip while storming the Israeli border and in an airstrike responding to Palestinian rocket fire.

Some 1,445 Palestinians have been wounded by rubber bullets or live rounds in clashes this month with Israeli security forces, the Palestinian Red Crescent said.

On Wednesday, State Department spokesman John Kirby said that the United States considered a Friday stabbing attack on four Palestinians in Dimona "an act of terrorism."

"Individuals on both sides of this divide ... are guilty of acts of terrorism," he said.

Kirby said US Secretary of State John Kerry was "deeply concerned" about the increased violence and had "every intention" of traveling to the region soon.

The violence comes amid perceived Israeli changes to the status quo observed at a disputed Jerusalem holy site. Israel has denied any changes at the site.

The stabbings, rock throwing and lobbing of petrol bombs at Israeli security forces and civilians is seen as an expression of the frustration of a new Palestinian generation in the absence of any hope for a peace process.
 
By Ofira Koopmans

© 2021 dpa GmbH

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