A flare up in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict over the past couple of weeks has led to protests, air strikes, and hundreds of deaths. There are arguably two catalysts to these tensions and both have the Israeli Netanyahu government to blame. The first was a squad of Israeli police officers who entered the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, somewhere that is controlled by the Jordanian Royal Guard and where non-Muslims can only visit during limited time periods. The police brushed aside Palestinian attendants and cut the cables to the loudspeakers that broadcast prayers. Then came the eviction of six Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood in East Jerusalem, which is a disputed territory. Following this was the police raid on the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday, May 7th where officers armed with tear gas, stun grenades, and rubber-tipped bullets burst into the mosque compound, setting off hours of clashes.
Violence escalated significantly in the days following these initial events. Dozens of Hamas rockets came over from Gaza, some even reaching Tel Aviv. Israel has been conducting air strikes of its own, resulting in many more deaths, partly by nature of its stronger military capabilities. The Israeli state blew up a building in which the AP works in Gaza, claiming Hamas was set up there. It’s too early to tell whether this is simply part of a pattern of flare-ups in the region or if this one will lead to more significant change. Clearly, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands to benefit off these escalations and if progress is going to be made in the conflict, it’s going to be with him out of power. Only once there is new leadership among the involved parties can there be hope for peace and a two-state solution with a contiguous and sovereign Palestine.
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