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Israel-Palestine Tension Continues to Climb

AFP Israeli photographer Menahem Kahana (C) is roughed up by an Israeli policeman during a demonstration in a street in the Muslim quarter of Jerusalem's Old City, on October 4, 2015, as Israel took a rare and drastic step of barring Palestinians from the
Israel-Palestine Tension Continues to Climb
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Israeli forces destroyed the homes of two Palestinians on Tuesday.

The teardowns added tension to a dangerous climate between Palestinians and Israelis.

One of the homes belonged to the family of a man who killed five men and a police officer in an attack on a synagogue in November 2014. The other belonged to a man who killed a person with a tractor in August 2014.

Israeli forces also closed part of a house linked to a Palestinian who shot a Jewish activist on October 29.

Violence between Israeli forces and Palestinians has grown in the past weeks. Palestinians disagree with Israeli expansion into Palestinian areas, including settlements on the rural and suburban West Bank.

In urban East Jerusalem, tensions have increased at the al-Aqsa mosque, which Muslims consider the third-holiest site in their religion. It was built in the late 600s. Jews call the site Temple Mount, because a Jewish temple stood there until around the year 70.

In the past week, two Palestinian teenagers who were throwing stones were shot and killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank.

A Palestinian stabbed a father to death and wounded the man’s wife and child in an attack in the Old City area of Jerusalem.

On Sunday, Israeli police shot and killed a Palestinian who stabbed and wounded an Israeli teen near the Old City. Israeli police arrested five Palestinians whom they say shot and killed two Israelis the week earlier.

Tension has been building for some time as Israel has grown settlements in Palestinian areas of the city and the countryside. The settlements are housing developments that offer less costly land and homes to Israelis. Settlements are also part of an expansion of Israeli and Jewish authority. The land and buildings for settlements is often seized from Palestinians.

In July, settlers firebombed a Palestinian home, killing an 18-month-old baby. In Jerusalem, religious Israelis forced their way into the Al-Aqsa mosque, or Dome of the Rock, to pray. It is Islam’s third-holiest place. Palestinians pushed back, and violence began.

The Israeli military said hundreds of Palestinians threw firebombs and rocks at soldiers, and burned tires. The soldiers fired at the rioters. The Palestinian Red Crescent group reported that 456 Palestinians were hurt in two days of clashes.

Israeli police have temporarily barred Palestinians from the Old City. And it says men 50 years old and younger will not be permitted to enter the Al-Aqsa mosque.

Peace has been difficult to achieve because of strong statements from the Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Violence on both sides and continued building of settlements in the West Bank are also factors.

Late Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to speed up the destruction of terrorists’ homes. He also promised to jail suspected terrorists before they are tried.

He spoke before the beginning of an emergency Security Cabinet meeting. He said there are no limits on Israel’s security forces as they react to an increase in Palestinian violence. He said Israel is letting its forces, in his words, “take strong action against those who throw rocks and firebombs. We are not prepared to give immunity to anybody -- not to any rioter or any terrorist anywhere.” He said Israel is in a war “to the death” against terrorism.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also met with his security officials on Monday. He urged them to stop the violence from increasing and to not give the Israeli government reasons to attack Palestinians.

I’m Christopher Jones-Cruise.

This story was reported by Christopher Jones-Cruise adapted it for Learning English. Kathleen Struck was the editor.


Words in This Story

site – n. the place where something (such as a building) is, was or will be located

immunity – n. special protection from what is required for most people by law; usually “+ from”

synagogue ​-- n. a place or building used for Jewish religious services

mosque – n. a place or building used for Muslim religious services

holy – adj. connected to a god or a religion

authority – n. the power or right to direct or control someone or something

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