Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ordered his security chiefs to do their utmost to urgently quell surging West Bank protests Saturday night.
Abbas issued the orders to his security apparatus after days of escalating violence which saw four Israelis killed by Palestinian terrorists since Thursday and three Palestinians killed during clashes with the IDF on Sunday and Monday.
The PA leader intervened as Israel’s security cabinet convened in Jerusalem to discuss new measures to halt the violence. Abbas said his forces needed to act more firmly in order to deny Israel the pretext for a West Bank crackdown, Israel’s Channel 2 reported.
Israel and the Palestinian Authority have been communicating in the past 24 hours in an attempt to calm the escalating violence in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, a senior PA official told The Times of Israel earlier on Monday night.
The official noted that Palestinian protests in the past two days have started to draw hundreds of youths, underlining concerns, he said, “that we are witnessing the start of a third intifada.”
There were clashes between Palestinians throwing stones and petrol bombs and burning tires in some 25 locations in the West Bank on Monday, Israel’s Channel 2 said.
In their exchanges of messages, Israeli officials have told the PA that the Israeli security forces intend to take firmer measures to prevent settler extremist violence against Palestinians, the PA official said. The Israelis also noted that there will be a reduction in Jewish visitors to the Temple Mount as the High Holiday period comes to an end.
The PA source said that Palestinian security forces were still working to maintain calm, despite Abbas’s declaration at the UN last week that the PA was no longer bound by its agreements with Israel. However, he said it was getting increasingly difficult for the PA to do so.
“We are witnessing the start of a third intifada, and Israel is not doing enough to rein in violence,” the PA official charged. “The number of gunfire victims hospitalized today was out of the ordinary; it’s not clear to us if there have been new rules introduced on opening fire. This certainly won’t de-escalate the situation.”
Netanyahu said Sunday that Israel is “waging a fight to the death against Palestinian terror.” He has partly blamed Abbas for inciting the escalation in violence. Abbas has alleged — including during his speech to the UN last Wednesday — that Israel is allowing “extremists” into the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount and that Israel plans to change the status quo regarding access to the contested holy site. Netanyahu has repeatedly rejected these claims.
Israeli security officials were also braced for demonstrations in the Israeli Arab sector on Monday night, with protests planned for Sakhnin in the lower Galilee, among other locations. Betar Jerusalem and local team Bnei Sakhnin were playing a soccer match in the Arab city Monday night, an encounter that is routinely tense.
In Nazareth, in northern Israel, masked youths burned tires, threw stones and blocked a junction Monday night. They were dispersed by police.