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Fiery skirmishes reported in East Jerusalem as Rosh Hashanah starts

Fireworks launched at Border Police as blazes break out in Silwan neighborhood; explosive hurled at West Bank checkpoint while IDF chief celebrates holiday with troops nearby

Israeli Border Guards in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on June 21, 2021, during clashes between Israelis  and Palestinians. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)
Illustrative: Israeli Border Guards in the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah on June 21, 2021, during clashes between Israelis and Palestinians. (Ahmad Gharabli/AFP)

Violence broke out between Israeli security forces and Palestinians in East Jerusalem on Sunday night, shortly after the start of the Rosh Hashanah holiday.

Rioters shot fireworks at Border Police in the Silwan neighborhood, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

Videos posted by Arabic media showed fires raging in the capital’s A-Tor neighborhood. One clip appeared to show a balcony ablaze.

It wasn’t immediately clear what set off the confrontations, which came with police and the army on high alert in Jerusalem and the West Bank. There were no reports of injuries.

In another incident, Army Radio said attackers hurled improvised explosives at a military checkpoint near Jenin in the West Bank as army chief Aviv Kohavi celebrated Rosh Hashanah with troops nearby. There were no injuries or damage.

Police and troop levels had been bolstered ahead of the holiday, with tensions already running high in recent months due to an Israeli terror crackdown in the West Bank.

Police chief Kobi Shabtai has called for those with a firearms license to carry their weapons with them over the holiday, in response to attack fears, Channel 12 news reported.

Earlier Sunday, army sappers were called in to deal with suspected explosives that had been planted at a gas station at the entrance to the Kedumim West Bank settlement.

Palestinian gunmen in recent months have targeted numerous military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.

Overnight, troops ambushed a group of Palestinian gunmen allegedly on their way to carry out a shooting attack, the IDF said, killing one.

Later Sunday, the military announced the arrest of four suspects in the West Bank — including two in Nablus — as part of the months-long counter-terror crackdown. An IDF statement said gunfire was heard in the area during the operation. Another suspect was detained in the Nablus-area village of Jalud, while the fourth was arrested in Hebron.

Israel on Sunday closed its crossings to the West Bank and Gaza Strip for Palestinians until the end of the holiday on Tuesday night.

Such closures are standard practice during festivals and holidays. The military says they are a preventative measure against attacks in periods of increased friction.

Tensions have spiked in recent months during an Israeli terror crackdown that followed a series of deadly terror attacks earlier this year. Israeli troops have repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in the West Bank.

File: Israeli troops operate in the West Bank, September 18, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

More than 2,000 suspects have been detained since the beginning of this year, according to the Shin Bet security service.

Prime Minister Yair Lapid said earlier this month that the Shin Bet had thwarted hundreds of terror attacks this year.

Dozens of Palestinians have been killed, making 2022 the deadliest year in the territory since 2015. Most, but not all, of the Palestinians killed have been wanted terrorists or young men and teenagers violently confronting soldiers, including throwing stones, firebombs or opening fire.

The military launched the anti-terror operation after a series of deadly attacks killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.

Israeli security officials have warned in recent months that the Palestinian Authority, controlled by Hamas rival Fatah, is losing control of the northern West Bank.

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