AMMAN, Jordan — The Jordanian parliament Saturday accused Israel of “state terrorism” against the Palestinian people after Israeli forces shot dead seven Gazans and wounded more than 140 others in border clashes in the coastal strip.
“The Israeli enemy, sapping the rights of the Palestinians on their own lands… and over their holy places, is exercising state terrorism before the eyes of the whole world,” parliament charged in a statement carried by state news agency Petra.
The legislators in Jordan, one of only two Arab countries along with Egypt to have a peace treaty with Israel, condemned “the crimes committed by Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza.”
After several days of deadly clashes in the West Bank and Israel, violence spread Friday to the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian casualties were the result of “barbaric and racist” Israeli military actions that violated international and humanitarian laws, the MPs charged.
They accused the international community of “not lifting a finger to halt these racist and detestable policies that are pushing the region and world towards more violence and instability.”
Jordan’s Information Minister Mohammed Momani, for his part, warned that the Israeli actions could “destroy all peace efforts in the region.”
The Israeli army said that riots broke out Friday east of Gaza City and Khan Yunis. There had been “multiple violent attempts to storm the border fence” and “1,000 rioters infiltrated the buffer zone,” throwing a “grenade, rocks and rolled burning tyres” at the soldiers.
“After firing warning shots, forces on site responded with fire towards main instigators in order to prevent their advance and disperse the riot,” a statement said.
Later a rocket fired into Israel exploded in the Eshkol region, causing no injuries. Israel said Saturday it had deployed Iron Dome missile defense batteries in the southern cities of Beersheba and Ofakim, in addition to those already placed in Sderot and Netivot, as concerns grow of an escalation in rocket-fire.
Friday was the worst day of violence in the Palestinian enclave since last summer’s war between Hamas and Israel.
The clashes came as Hamas’s chief in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, called the violence an intifada and urged further unrest.
On Saturday further rioting was reported along the border, with dozens of youths protesting and burning tires near the Erez Crossing.
Until Friday, the unrest was limited mostly to the West Bank and Israel. A wave of attacks on Israelis started in Jerusalem weeks ago over what Israel says are unfounded Palestinian rumors that it was expanding its presence at the Temple Mount, sacred to both Muslims And Jews. They have since spread to the rest on the country.
Recent days have seen a series of terror attacks by young Palestinians wielding household items like kitchen knives, screwdrivers and even a vegetable peeler. The youths had no known links to armed groups and have targeted Israeli soldiers and civilians at random, complicating security efforts to predict or prevent the attacks.
The violence, including the first apparent revenge attack by an Israeli Friday and increasing protests by Israel’s own Arab minority, has raised fears of the unrest spiraling further out of control. The unpredictability and brutality of the assaults, coupled with the young age of some of the attackers, have shocked Israelis and raised fears that a new Palestinian intifada — or uprising — could be underway.
Leaders on both sides have called for calm. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under fire from hard-liners within his own governing coalition, as well as opposition lawmakers, for not putting an end to the surging violence. In a measure meant to ease tensions, Netanyahu has banned Cabinet ministers and lawmakers from visiting the sensitive Jerusalem holy site, fearing any high-profile spectacle could further enflame tensions.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said his people had no interest in further violence and was committed to “peaceful popular resistance.” Still, he voiced support for the protesters who have clashed with Israeli police at al-Aqsa and hurled stones, firebombs and fireworks at them.
The Jerusalem hilltop compound lies at the heart of recent tensions. It is home to the al-Aqsa mosque and is revered by Muslims as the spot where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven and by Jews as the site of the two Jewish biblical Temples.
Many Palestinians believe Israel is trying to expand the Jewish presence at the site, a claim Israel adamantly denies. Under a longstanding arrangement administered by Islamic authorities, Jews are allowed to visit the site during certain hours but may not pray there.