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Israel on high alert over clashes in east Jerusalem

Tensions in the West Bank and in the east Jerusalem Shuafat refugee camp are quickly spreading to many other locations, with violent clashes between Palestinians and Israeli troops.
A member of the Israeli security forces is pictured in the Shuafat refugee camp during confrontations with Palestinian protesters, east Jerusalem, Oct. 12, 2022.

After a stormy night, Israel’s security agencies now prepare for more clashes in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. This morning was relatively quiet in east Jerusalem, but Israel fears this is only temporary. The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said this morning that it has put Border Police reservists on alert, and could call them in soon if the security situation keeps escalating. Ten reservist companies were notified that their people could be summoned for army service in the coming days. This afternoon, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev ordered an immediate mobilization of four Israel Border Police companies, which should assist the police forces operating in east Jerusalem.  

Riots are taking place on the backdrop of the Jewish Sukkoth holiday, when thousands of Israeli Jews traditionally visit Jerusalem and pray at the Western Wall.

Riots in the east Jerusalem Shuafat refugee camp started Oct. 8, after a Palestinian assailant killed IDF soldier Noa Lazar and seriously wounded a security guard. Clashes broke out when Israeli troops entered Shuafat to search for the assailant, who is still not captured. The refugee camp has been under closure since Oct. 8.

Last night, riots in Shuafat intensified, spreading to other neighborhoods in east Jerusalem. Fighting incidents between Jews and Arabs were reported last night in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, including both groups throwing stones at each other. Riots broke out also in the neighborhoods of Silwan, Kafr Aqab, A-Tur, Wadi al-Joz, Sur Bahar, Issawiya, Jabal Mukabar, Beit Hanina and Hizmah, with Palestinian protesters hurling rocks and Molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers. The protesters also threw fireworks at the soldiers and set tires and trash cans on fire.  

Two police officers were injured during clashes in the Issawiya neighborhood. Police said this morning that 23 people had been detained in connection with the rioting in Jerusalem over the past days. Out of the 23, nine were arrested in raids on their homes in Issawiya on suspicion of involvement in the violence.

Rocks were reportedly thrown at the vehicle of Jerusalem Mayor Moshe Leon while it was driving in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Ras al-Amud. A Jewish family had to flee east Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina, after entering the neighborhood by accident. The car in which the family was driving was attacked by an angry mob, who threw stones at them. The family managed to escape without any injuries.

In the West Bank, Palestinian gunmen opened fire yesterday at a Border Police position at the Qalandia checkpoint near Jerusalem. A Palestinian teenager was shot and killed by Israeli forces during clashes with troops near Hebron in the West Bank. On Oct. 11, Israeli soldier Ido Baruch was killed near Nablus in fire exchange with Palestinian gunmen.

Another flashpoint location has been Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus. Israeli troops reportedly came under fire there early this morning, when escorting a small group of Jewish pilgrims arriving to the site. The city was put under closure early this week after Baruch was killed.

This afternoon, clashes started between Palestinians and settlers outside Huwara, south of Nablus, after Palestinians threw stones at an Israeli vehicle.

Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid will hold today a security situational assessment meeting, together with Bar-Lev, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, Israel Police Commissioner Kobi Shabtai, Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar and other security officials.

Gantz insisted this morning that Israel did not lose control over the situation. "We are using all available means at our disposal and increasing [efforts] as much as possible. We carry out offensive activities in Nablus, Jenin and anywhere else where this is required," Gantz said.

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