World Bulletin/News Desk
Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon has refused to refer to recent attacks by Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the occupied West Bank as a new "intifada" (Arabic for "uprising"), insisting that the attacks had all been "individual terrorist acts."
"The wave of escalations we are witnessing comprises individual terrorist acts," Ya'alon said during a visit to Israeli communities located near the blockaded Gaza Strip, as reported by Israeli public radio on Friday.
"These acts cannot be described as an 'intifada'," he insisted.
Ya'alon vowed that his government would step up its arrest of members of Palestinian resistance faction Hamas and other resistance movements in the Palestinian territories, which Israel blames for a series of recent deadly attacks in both Israel and the occupied West Bank.
Ya'alon's statements come on the heels of an attack earlier this week by two Palestinians on a West Jerusalem synagogue that left five Israelis dead.
The synagogue attack was the latest episode in an ongoing wave of upheaval that has in recent months engulfed Jerusalem and the rest of the occupied West Bank.
It was initially triggered by the abduction and murder of a Palestinian teenager in East Jerusalem, along with Israel's military onslaught on the Gaza Strip this summer in which over 2,160 Palestinians – the vast majority of them civilians – were killed.
Two Israeli settlers suffered minor injuries on Friday during clashes with Palestinian youths near Jerusalem's Mount of Olives, according to eyewitnesses and Israeli police.
Israeli police have since launched an investigation into the incident, the police said in a statement.
"A group of about eight Jewish settlers began hurling profanities at several Arab youths, provoking the latter to clash with the settlers, two of whom were injured," one witness told The Anadolu Agency.
"One of the settlers was hit in the head, the other in his back," the witness added.
According to a statement issued by Magen David Adom, Israel's national emergency service, the settlers have since been moved to a Jerusalem hospital.
In a separate incident, an Israeli settler opened fire on a Palestinian bus near the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday, according to eyewitnesses.
The bus was damaged by the shooting, but passengers were able to vacate the vehicle unharmed, according to witnesses.
Increasingly frequent intrusions by Israeli officials and Jewish settlers into East Jerusalem's flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound – along with fresh restrictions on Muslim worshippers at the site – have served to anger Palestinians.
The situation reached the boiling point on October 30, when Israel briefly closed the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex after an extremist rabbi was injured in a drive-by shooting in West Jerusalem.
Since then, a total of 11 Israelis have been killed – including those killed in the synagogue attack – and several others injured in a spate of assaults by Palestinians, both inside Israel and in the occupied territories.
Over the past 27 years, thousands of Palestinians and hundreds of Israelis have been killed in two major Palestinian uprisings against Israel's decades-long occupation of Palestinian land.
The Second Intifada, which erupted in September 2000, was triggered by a visit to East Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque complex by controversial Israeli politician Ariel Sharon.
The uprising left some 4,000 Palestinians dead and more than 50,000 injured before petering out in 2005. Over a thousand Israelis were killed over the same period.
Last Mod: 22 Kasım 2014, 10:28